SMOKE & MIRRORS - Amy-Lou Matthews

Graduate Residency Exhibition
January 19th to 27th, 2018

During her 6 month Graduate residency with AirSpace, Amy has continued her exploration of self, and the dual sides of personality, ego and id, asking questions, never more pertinent than in today's post-truth world, about what is real and what is perceived reality.

Smoke and Mirrors, Matthews' first solo exhibition, is an exploration of truth, faith and trust. And illusion. It seeks to expose ideas of artifice by laying the illusion bare - lifting the lid on trickery and deception, by preenting both the trick...and how it is done. Utilising stage and theatre methodologies, and incorporating elements of photography, film, sound and performance, Smoke & Mirrors is a playful, theatrical experience which asks the viewer to become part of the exhibition, implicitly, where their very act of being in the Gallery space activates existing work and creates new works.

Matthews' practice has been concerned with the exploration of binary relationships - particularly the relationship with ourselves and the space(s), both mental and physical, we inhabit. This is often done by the creation of multiples of herself in photographic images, but also incorporates improvisational performance, choreography and staging in an attempt to blur the line between virtual & actual.

Now, you're looking for the secret… but you won't find it, because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.
- Cutter ( Michael Caine) from The Prestige, 2006

Of Smoke & Mirrors, Matthews says -
On entering the space, immediately a sense of trust is formed as you have to walk down a dark corridor, that demands that you have faith that this will lead somewhere. This begins a bond between you the audience and myself (the artist). The instruction of having to carry out tasks before entering the space, passes the choice on to you as an individual to suspend your disbelief, open your mind to possibility and start an exchange between artist and spectator.

The magician-audience dynamic is built on a (one-sided) faith-based relationship ,relying on a system of trust between performer (artist) and audience. This is one of the few situations in which people willingly allow them selves to be lied to. Trust between the performer and their audience allows them to willingly forget about logic and enjoy impossible wonders with out the fear of being exploited.

I have been fascinated with a sense of duality and mirroring, particularly with myself. Previously, I have been the subject and object, performer and director. Here I am looking to invite the audience in to the process, but with a distortion. I want to flip the traditional relationship between artwork and audience and transform the spectator into an unintentional performer.

I see a shift between fact and fiction. A place where information that should be based on solid hard facts are bent in such away to the point doubt is unavoidable. While, fictional stories where the imagination of endless possibilities, gives an experiences that feel to real and safe from the physical existence we are in. Visual effects, motion capture and VR have began blurring the visible line between reality and fiction.


Amy's performance-based practice centres around film, photography, choreography and staging, where acts of playful nature are used to explore the archetypes of identity. This experimentation has evolved into a fascination of the more absurd, by regularly depicting herself in the performance, and the explicit demonstration of how these tropes can be constructed. Amy graduated from Staffordshire University in July 2017.


The AirSpace Gallery Graduate Residency Scheme, running since 2012, seeks to tackle graduate retention in Stoke-on-Trent and offers new arts graduates an opportunity to bridge the gap between education and a professional arts career. Residents receive free personal studio space for 6 months, and full access to the Gallery's facilities. There is an emphasis on professional development, with a series of monthly mentoring meetings, led by Gallery directors and invited artists. The scheme offers two exhibition opportunities within the Gallery - an interim exhibition in the AirSpace Window Space or Resource Room and the final all-important solo exhibition which is produced and curated with tailored assistance from a professional artist identified through conversation between the resident and the gallery directors.

Less information

During her 6 month Graduate residency with AirSpace, Amy has continued her exploration of self, and the dual sides of personality, ego and id, asking questions, never more pertinent than in today's post-truth world, about what is real and what is perceived reality.

More information


AirSpace Gallery is a collaborative, artist led project in Stoke-on-Trent, providing professional development opportunities, studio and exhibiting space and support for artists.

Through a dynamic and evolving programme of exhibitions, events and activities AirSpace Gallery brings critical, high quality contemporary art to the region and provides opportunities for a broad range of artists.

Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England and Wales No. 0653043

Visit AirSpace Gallery

4 Broad Street
City Centre

Open during exhibitions

Thursday to Saturday
11:00am to 5:00pm
Tuesdays and Wednesdays
by appointment

+44(0)1782 26 12 21


Site by design.counterwork