'Wandle auf Rosen und Vergissmeinnicht', Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, 28. May 2016 - 12. February 2017


still from The Footwashing, 16mm colour film transferred to digital, silent, 5minutes, 2016.

This exhibition begins with a question about how it is that we construct our rites of courtship. These are rituals that reflect the emotions of longing and desire in our lives, and so there are, and always have been a wealth of materials at our disposal in such pursuits of love. Clothing and accessories act as signifiers and signs in how we construct our emotional, private and public selves but also call into question who are these attires for? They can mask our vulnerabilities and at the same time strengthen our attractiveness to others. Society of course has always a strong interest in the regulation of what our sexuality might do for us and to others. As such, the right way and the wrong way to go about courtship has always been central to societal and religious concerns.
In presenting the result of a period of field work in the museum, the artist found that some objects come to represent not just historical desires, but contemporary ones too, highlighting our continuing fascination with the transparency of human sensuality, sexuality and ritual.

A  catalogue of the exhibition will be published later in the year.

28. Mai 2016 - 12. Februar 2017
Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum,
Burgplatz 1
Tel +49 (0531) 1215 0

'Imagine Asia', Pataka Art + Museum, 22 February - 17 May 2015.


Since 2007 the Asia New Zealand Foundation has run a programme of residency opportunities in Asia for emerging and mid-career New Zealand artists. An exhibition of works by artists who have benefitted from these residencies will be opened at Pataka Art + Museum in early 2015 as part of the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

Participating artists include: Reuben Paterson, Steve Carr, Kushana Bush, Tiffany Singh, Jae Hoon Lee, Ben Buchanan, Kerry Ann Lee, Lorene Taurerewa, Fiona Amundsen, Erica van Zon, Chris Pole, Kate Woods, Mathew Logan, Liyen Chong, Matthew Cowan, Tim Veling, Number 8 Collective and Jade Townsend.

22 February - 17 May 2015
Pataka Art + Museum

Cnr. Norrie and Paumoana Streets, 
Porirua City, 5240 
New Zealand

still from Kyudo, from a multi-channel video installation, (c) 2013

'Another Face', B-Galleria, 9 January - 31 January, 2015.


Matthew Cowan

9 January - 31 January, 2015
Aninkaistenkatu 5 

This work deals with the performance of ritual and traditional customs, and the ongoing role that folklore itself plays in contemporary societies. The ability of the protagonists of such folk traditions to transform themselves and their communities through rituals dramas and dances marks the passage of time over the course of the seasons and the year, and brings a focus to a community's celebration and shared spirit. Contemporary occurrences of disguised traditions such as house calling at Halloween and Carnival processions in Europe continue to present the powerful lure of the act of ritual disguise. Such disguises and costumes help define participants as 'other' among their community and mark out their participation in celebration and festivity. 

These pieces of costume and applique were made in several different contexts, but each is a version of disguise and non-disclosure.

still from 'Cheering the Straws', digital video, (c) 2011

'Terminalia', Charlie Smith London, September 5 – October 4, 2014.



Matthew Cowan, Reece Jones, CJ Mahony

Artists exist within and alongside pre-determined, pre-existent boundaries, co-ordinates and pathways long since established. They are variously aware of the proximity of these territories, their histories, their previous inhabitants, their provocative neighbours and dearest defenders. Making more art re-asserts these invisible lines, naturally challenges them or deliberately disregards them - enabling the layout of entirely new spaces in which to dwell.

Before modern systems of mapping, tradition insisted that members of tribes, townships or cities would physically trace the borders of their parish, being made aware of its variables, correcting its anomalies and assuring a new generation would carry the knowledge on. This knowledge was often forcefully imprinted on the psyche of young villagers by beating upon them at key junctions or even bouncing them forcefully on marker stones or fence posts. The tradition became known as ‘Beating the Bounds’ and is still practiced on occasion to this day.

The artists in Terminalia all seek to draw attention to or deliberately subvert particular marker points. Either exploring latent lore and tradition, marking new terrain by counteracting existent architectures or allowing unstable signs and signifiers to create navigational anomalies and mis-steps.

curated by Reece Jones

September 5 – October 4, 2014
Charlie Smith London
336 Old Street, 2nd Floor, 

London EC1V 9DR. 
United Kingdom

In Order to See the Past, We Have to Walk Backwards Into the Future (detail) | 2012 | Wood & acrylic paint | 225x168x34cm

'Unstuck in Time', Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts. 2 Aug - 26 October, 2014


The Otolith Group, Matthew Cowan, Phil Dadson, Tehching Hsieh, Toril Johannessen, Martin Awa Clarke Langdon, Darcy Lange, Kerry Ann Lee, Duane Linklater, Sally J. Morgan, Simon Morris, Sorawit Songsataya, Shannon Te Ao, Layne Waerea, Kate Woods, Nicolas Kozakis & Raoul Vaneigem, lightreading: Sonya Lacey & Sarah Rose, Torben Tilly & Robin Watkins. Curated by Bruce E. Phillips
2 August - 26 October 2014
Opening: Saturday 2 August, 2pm
Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts
13 Reeves Rd, Pakuranga, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand

'The Terminalia of Funny-land', performance still. 2014

'Cosmic Weight', Corner Project Space, 11 June - 17 August, 2014.


Cosmic Weight, 2014
Project 16: Matthew Cowan (NZ)

11 June - 17 August 2014
Corner Project Space
Karangahape Road, Auckland, New Zealand

Corner project space is a window gallery at the corner of Karangahape Road and Edinburgh Street in Auckland, New Zealand - with a programme of projects and exhibitions and is curated by Rob Garrett and hosted by Glamuzina Paterson Architects and Kelvin Soh.

This work seeks to re-examine the history of cultural and folk celebration in a contemporary sense, assembling artworks from such customs that highlight new meanings and relationships to the past, the land, and the places that customs are tied to. As artworks, they address conflicting theories about the ongoing influence of European folkloric and carnival celebrations.

This show is drawn together by an arrangement of sculptures, decorative objects and domestic devices that further provide ritualistic, ornamental and alternative uses. Although this work is presented in a former shop window in central Auckland, it draws from a line of crafted folk tradition of European origin. Some pieces are original artifacts and others are objects and sculptures, made in New Zealand.

Two of the objects on display are directly sourced from this European lineage. The ‘weather house’ is a small decorative German alpine chalet that houses a hygrometer and two figures. This functions as a measure of the moisture in the air by use of an expanding or contracting horsehair contained within its tiny rafters. It sends alternatively a man wearing a raincoat, or a woman in a sunhat to the front, depending on the humidity. A ‘himmeli’ is a Finnish Christmas decoration crafted from straw and continuous thread, using the principle of rotational symmetry. Himmeli are hung in domestic spaces as a decorative centerpiece and as an augur of good fortune.

'Straw Nuuttipukki' 2014. digital print, 594x841mm

'News From Nowhere', Transition Gallery at Kelmscott House, 9 June – 2 August 2014.


News from Nowhere
9 June – 2 August 2014

Benjamin Bridges, Matthew Cowan, Annabel Dover, Debbie Lawson, Cathy Lomax, William Morris, Laura Oldfield Ford, Alex Pearl, Alli Sharma, Mimei Thompson, Mark Titchner, Joel Tomlin

Transition Gallery has partnered with the William Morris Society at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, to organise a special exhibition for the first Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Festival. William Morris was an artist, writer, printer, designer-craftsman, environmentalist and political activist and lived at Kelmscott House from 1878 until his death. The exhibition draws on this unique location to combine contemporary painting, drawing, photography, film and sculpture with highlights from the William Morris Society collection.

News from Nowhere takes its title from William Morris’ utopian novel and vision for a future free from capitalism, alienation and industrialisation. In our current climate of political uncertainty, ‘disappearance’ of the working classes and shifting populations, Morris’ longings for a better world seem more pertinent than ever. Morris became increasingly involved in political activism and founded the Hammersmith Socialist Society in 1890, which held Sunday evening lecturers in the Coach House at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith. The location is directly referred to in News from Nowhere and the exhibition will take place in this historic space. Morris also set up carpet looms in the Coach House before moving Morris & Co.’s workshops to Merton Abbey in 1881.

Morris’ desire to see an end to mass production and return to small-scale local production seems like a modern concept. His socialism was imbued with environmentalism and understanding of the brutalising nature of the modern city. Whilst his idealised vision may have been unattainable, his passion is inspiring and the exhibition will bring into focus his vital message, to dare to dream. Incorporating works from the William Morris Society collection, News from Nowherepicks up the dialogue where ideas about the environment, idealised society, personal longings and dreams for the future continue to yearn, seethe, simmer and provoke.

Artist Talk: Saturday 19 July, 2.15pm
Opening Hours: 9-15 June open daily 2-5pm for ArtsFest, then Thurs and Sat afternoons 2-5pm until 2 August

9 June – 2 August 2014
Private View: Thursday 12 June, 5-9pm
Transition Gallery at the William Morris Society

Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mall London W6 9TA, UK

‘… if others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream.’ William Morris

'Cosmic Weight', 2013, digital print, 594 x 841mm

Artist Talk: British Higher School of Art and Design, Moscow


Matthew Cowan
Artist Talk

British Higher School of Art and Design
Room 415
1.15 Tuesday 29 October, 2013

All Welcome

10 Nizhnyaya Syromyatnicheskaya St., building 3

Moscow 105120, 

Artist Talk: British Higher School of Art and Design, Moscow


'Flowerbeard', Te Tuhi, 9 November 2013 - 9 February 2014.


09 November 2013 - 09 February 2014


'Flowerbeard Stockade Hill', billboard print, 2013

Flowerbeard Billboard installation, Te Tuhi, Pakuranga, Auckland. 2013.

'Body Rock', The Film Archive, Auckland, 21 October - 22 November 2013.


A Dance Portrait project by Rebecca Ann Hobbs

At the Film Archive
300 Karangahape Road
Newton Auckland

Black Market | RM Fundraiser


Black Market

RM Fundraiser


Contributors include:
Lydia CHAI
Eleanor COOPER
Matthew COWAN
James R FORD
Vanessa GLEYE
Geoffrey HEATH
Veronica HERBER
Michelle OSBORNE
Dianne SCOTT
Vivienne WORN

First in first served, cash and carry.

Three weeks ago RM was robbed and two flatscreen monitors and three media players were taken. The thieves even stole the cover off the cushion on our benchseat, which Andrew Barber’s mum kindly made for us many years ago! .....


Gallery and projects

Ground floor
295 K'Road
Aotearoa - New Zealand

500m Gallery | Travelling Art


Installation shots from 旅するアート-Travelling Art-

3 August - 8 November, 2013

Sapporo City Odori 500m Underground Walkway 
Sapporo, Japan

Golf | Kyudo | Komuso , Digital Lenticular Prints

Map bamboo, duct tape, metal fixings, toothbrush, comb. 17000 x 1800mm

500m Gallery | Travelling Art


As I come to the end of my residency in Sapporo with S-AIR I have been working on some new pieces for an upcoming show at 500m in Sapporo. 500m gallery is a curated Municipal space situated underground in central Sapporo. The show includes many Japanese artists and artist groups.

3 August - 8 November, 2013
Sapporo City Odori 500m Underground Walkway 

The Trees Are Thick With Butter


The Trees Are Thick With Butter

Performance and exhibition presented by NURTUREart in conjunction with the Bushwick Open Studios, at Storefront Bushwick.

324 Ten Eyck St, Brooklyn, 
New York
1 - 2 June,

'Rituals Are Tellers of Us' London Screening at ATOI & Cull


Rituals Are Tellers of Us - Screening

Tereza Bušková and Matthew Cowan

31 May 2013

18.30 - 21.00

ATOI & Cull
Enclave 6, 
50 Resolution way, 
SE8 4NT 

ATOI have invited the curators of Rituals Are Tellers Of Us to bring a capsule of the show from Cornwall to London, showing a selection of works by Tereza Bušková and Matthew Cowan.

Both artists feature in Rituals Are Tellers Of Us, a group exhibition currently on display at Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall. The exhibition brings together a range of artworks that explore different aspects and understandings of ritual. The intention being to raise questions about what a ritual might be, how rituals are tellers of us and what the purposes of rituals could be.

Tereza Bušková is a Czech artist based in the UK. Her intuitive practices capture and renew folk traditions through the combination of filmmaking, screen printing and performance. She juxtaposes traditions, often considered irrelevant and old fashioned, with personal invented rituals, provoking a re-evaluation of the meaning of the historical traditions.

Matthew Cowan is a New Zealand artist based in the UK, whose practice explores the realm of traditional British and European customs. His work plays with the inherent strangeness of the continued popularity of established folk customs in a modern world. This work often takes the form of mock folk performances, which play with the elements of folk customs that link people to the past, focusing on society's longstanding relationship with ritual and using humour to subvert the usual social order.

Rituals Are Tellers Of Us continues at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Cornwall, UK.
4th May - 29th June 2013.

'Baked Woman of Doubice' HD Video, Tereza Bushkova © 2012.  Flowersuit by Matthew Cowan

'The Dance of the Tractor & the Chochol', digital video, Matthew Cowan ©2008