01/10/2014 11:23 BST | Updated 30/11/2014 05:59 GMT

When an Artist Rids the Ego, Helpful Art is Born: Matthew Sanderson - The 21st Century Sculptor


It's rare to find an artist as dedicated, as flexible, as polite, as Matt Sanderson. A sculptor quite content for the next generation to rip up his artwork and start again; but such is the humble mindset of a creator whose passion is not to lavish with grandiose appeal, drawing attention like Dali - no. Sanderson seeks to tell a story, to change a mindset, with an eco-maniac twist: divining inspiration materials from nature, reused metals from anywhere, and just like Ralph Steadman with his wild sketches, guarantees to add a personality, a soul which organically charges us to rethink what artwork actually does for today's society.

'Culture is the glue to any new community.' Sanderson believes, 'if you don't have culture, you don't have identity. The truly valuable part in any development is it's identity and that's central to all other motives to live in a particular area. Without culture there is no community bond, thriving of life, or commerce. They are all intrinsically linked.'

Before you meet a sculptor, especially one of this caliber, you expect some amount of confused social graces. Or perhaps conversation sprinkled with lashings of introverted awkwardness - surely he's secluded in a 'man cave' somewhere in the Outer Hebrides, playing nothing but Bach? But this fine metal-smithing designer is not what you think. Don't be fooled by the existential industry he works in. Sanderson is different. In his studio hangs hundreds of miniatures, tokens from all his projects, some famous, some more personal. As I follow him around, it's as if he's introducing me to members of his own family; whilst his own six year old is teaching me all about the golden section.

Born, bred and finely tuned in Cambridge amongst iconic art teachers who believed in their students, including Sanderson, he has become a popular and sought after commissioned sculptor, but of course he doesn't care about this. He cares about what's going on within the mind of his client. Within the intention of the brief with a question of how, oh how, could the idea add light to the land?

'Art should be unnecessary,' according to Sanderson, 'I feel that we have all to a greater or lesser extent lost touch with the cycle, seasonality, wildness, rarity of things. I enjoy leading people's eyes towards beautiful natural things. I see the mathematical sequence, the biology behind it, I enjoy bringing that to a new audience having striped it back, reinvented it. My efforts are a smaller human spin on something that is natural. It allows one to be extremely free - opportunistic.'

Sanderson now reaching 40, reflects back on his career in stages, from static observations to depictions of movement and latterly to kinetic machines. From the first piece of art he ever sold at eighteen, to becoming a lead artist for Cambridge's Corpus Clock: a piece that is functional, useful and shall be in the public domain for the next 250 years.

'I am not in the habit of making individual works for individuals. For me it's the team work and collaborations and challenges I met with the communities I work with that really excite me. I delight in creating original works with people, avoiding selfish and even pointless acts of art. It can have function, it can provoke the mind, it should be capricious enough to be sighted as something original and defines what it means to be human, but it must be good or useful for a community.'

The beautiful thing about Matt Sanderson and his work, is that he genuinely cares, always seeking to express an emotion that many of his clients can't alone capsulate into magnificent vision. He is exceptional with knowledge for both design and the backbones of mechanical invention, thoughtful, tireless in enthusiasm and still with an aptitude to produce something original, still within a love for nature, within a love for expanding the mind, within a knowledge that as an artist, you can not have a commissioned creation without trust between the artist and the client.

And because the trustworthiness of Sanderson is evident in all projects, because he trusts himself, his desire to find all manner of walks of creation is palpable:

'I'm looking for inspiring people to work with - engineers, architects, developers, community liaison officers, charities. Those people who have an idea or a question that want to challenge me; those are the people I want to work with so that we can invert the question, rip it up together and invent expectations - and I will enjoy doing it. '

Definition of 'Rip it up' from Matthew; to invert the question; to rebuild expectations from previously formed [to test techniques and turn them on their heads.]

Sanderson's work is currently exhibiting in Islington at PTE Architects at DIESPEKER WHARF.

You can follow Matt and his work on @MLSSculpture