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Matt Byrd’s ‘Motherland’ mirrors architectural compositions from the Stone Age
Motherland Figure 1 and Lamp 2 by Matt Byrd
Image: Courtesy of Matt Byrd

Matt Byrd’s ‘Motherland’ mirrors architectural compositions from the Stone Age

The American artist is currently showcasing his works at the Love House in New York.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Aug 03, 2022

Imagine plopping yourself against prehistoric megaliths. Magical, right? Now imagine these supramundane elements shrinking up and entering your living room to masquerade as stools, lamps, tables and bowls. American stonemason and sculptor Matt Byrd’s latest granite collection evokes a strange and wonderful charm similar to the sentiments experienced when in the midst of extraordinary architectural wonders. Although his modestly composed Motherland collection is not directly inspired by abstractly composed stone boulders from the neolithic era, their form resembles these entities in essence. “I’d simply carve a stone, zone out, and let my instincts guide me. It was like meditation,” says the American artist about his creative process. It was perhaps this instinctive process that gave form to a collection that resembles elemental architecture which was also created instinctually and without elaborate blueprints by our ancestors. Currently on display at Love House, a design showroom based in New York, these functional pieces can easily fulfil utilitarian demands of the lighting design and furniture design industries.

Motherland Figure 6 by Matt Byrd Image: Courtesy of Matt Byrd
Small Lamp by Matt Byrd Image: Courtesy of Matt Byrd

Byrd has, never in the past, attempted to create functional objects. Apprehensive about designing pieces that would neither fit well under the sculptural or functional bracket, he refrained from experimenting in this realm until recently. Leaving behind his usual sources of inspiration such as nature, architecture and artistic works by other creators, he decided to let his process guide him. Rather than drawing elaborate sketches, he drew rough outlines and left the rest up to his momentary intuition. “I started to treat it all like an adventure. I’d lose sleep at night trying to figure out how to make sense of what I had just started,” he admits.

Motherland Collection at Love House Image: Courtesy of Matt Byrd
Motherland Figure 3 by Matt Byrd Image: Courtesy of Matt Byrd

Like most of his stone works, Byrd, in his Motherland collection, applied the techniques and tools that he has grown used to as a trained stonemason. This collection, alluding to the motherland, was created by Byrd in his hometown, Raleigh, North Carolina. Seated with his friends, family and neighbours, he would ruminate and learn about the local materials. Later, he went on to craft these functional pieces that gracefully complement his body of work. Against the complicated shapes that Byrd is used to designing, these Motherland furniture and lamp design pieces appear simple and comforting. Just like the processes and functions of nature, his process, which involved sculpting the objects by hand, is also complicated, and similar to the various manifestations of nature, his final designs are delightful.

Matt Byrd sitting atop his Bridge Block Table 1 Image: Courtesy of Matt Byrd

Each piece in his homeware and furniture collection comprises myriad pieces that appear visually and physically complex but come together to form a simple and cohesive whole upon assembly. Featuring various tables, stools, lamps, bowls and wall hangings, the Motherland collection is an ode by Byrd to his hometown and his origins, which shaped him not only as a person but also as an artist, designer and stonemason. Moving forward, Byrd hopes to work on projects where he can experiment with larger and heavier pieces of furniture items and sculptures.

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