When Kate Middleton married Prince William earlier this year, her father commissioned a heraldic coat of arms for the family to mark the special occasion. The heraldic design featured three acorn sprigs to symbolise the Middletons’ three children, and a gold inverted ‘V’ to reflect Kate’s mother Carole’s maiden name of Goldsmith.
The origins of heraldry lie in the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by helmets, but a University of Wolverhampton graduate is using this ancient tradition to create bespoke artwork. Matthew Evans completed his MA in Fine Art passing with distinction this year and now creates alternative coats of arms, alongside other artistic projects. This innovative concept, with a twist, began when Matthew started creating designs for his friends, which is growing into a successful venture for the 22-year-old.
The Wolverhampton-based artist used his initiative this year when he read an article in the Sunday Express newspaper by Royal Correspondent Camilla Tominey. After reading about the journalist’s desire to have a coat of arms, just like the newly wed Duchess of Cambridge, Matthew wrote to Camilla offering to create one just for her. His design, which was triangular to symbolise Camilla’s two children and husband, featured a rabbit, Wonder Woman, Rioja and a boiled egg with soldiers. The design was printed in the newspaper in July – a great showcase for the graduate’s talents.
Matthew gathered the information for this via a questionnaire to probe Camilla’s interests and personality. He used a similar technique for a commission he was given at Birmingham’s Royal Orthopaedic Hospital to create 12 heraldic designs for a corridor in a new wing. Matthew created a special survey to gather information about people’s feelings and thoughts about their time at the hospital, including questions about their favourite memory and smells. Participants included a surgeon, a dinner lady, a porter, a matron and a 10-year-old girl who had broken her leg. The designs are now displayed in the hospital.
“It is amazing how much information people are willing to share if you ask. They buy into the idea as it is bespoke and just for them,” Matthew explains.
As with many things in the artistic world, this has led to another commission via one of the committee members at the hospital,and Matthew has created a coat of arms for someone in New Orleans in the USA featuring Superman. He is also working on a design for someone who used to work on Wall Street.
Matthew’s main technique for the heraldry is drawing, enhanced by laser etching to burn the designs into wood. His other interests include the ‘readymade’, print and photography. He describes his practice as ‘exploring codes of inclusion and exclusion, interpretation and understanding’. Matthew says his work treads ‘a fine line between corny and cool’, and the pieces are often humorous with an injection of cynicism. He showcased an on-going body of work, titled The Treacle Series, at the University’s MA Degree Show at the Public in West Bromwich in September and continues to build his portfolio.
Matthew is positive about his experience doing the MA at the University, and how this has helped him in what is a competitive but rewarding field.
“I think there is a lot of competition but you have to find your own niche. It is all about being self-motivated and taking a chance.
“I want to do a PhD before I’m 30, and education has really helped me to be where I am today. I feel there is potential in my work and it is up to me to make the most of it. The University helped me to be confident and to take a chance on what I’m doing. They instilled a ‘take a risk’ attitude which you have to do at a high level sometimes and also to believe in your work.”
For more information about Matthew’s work, visit www.10bearsart.co.uk