GRTR! photographer Simon Dunkerley recently attended the private viewing of ‘IONAWR’, the new exhibition featuring the work of fantasy artist Rodney Matthews.
Before the times of digital download and live music streaming the thrill of a new album release meant more than just the music. The whole ritual started with the trip to the record shop, the thumbing to find the album and the hurried trip home to play the music.
A vital part of this for some bands was the album artwork as it helped set the concept and feel for the whole album, consequently a number of artists turned their hand to this market and one of the finest is Rodney Matthews.
Rodney, originally from the Wells area, has chosen the formidable settings of The Bishops Palace, Wells for his latest exhibition ‘IONAWR’ (Welsh for ‘January’), which sees a selection of his awe inspiring artwork on display that not only includes album covers – Magnum, Nazareth, Thin Lizzy to name a few – but also pieces from his many book illustrations and DVD work.
The private viewing, held on Wednesday 13 January, to open the event was attended by over 150 people including many of Rodney’s family, close friends and Wells locals along with a number of musicians including Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin from Magnum.
Tonight was in fact the first time we had seen the finished artwork for Magnum’s latest album “Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies” due for release in February and Rodney has illustrated many of the band’s previous albums.
When I asked Rodney about the price of my favourite piece, ‘Heavy Metal Hero’ he replied “Do you have a mortgage Simon?” as he let out a wry smile, he went onto say “It’s a very special piece to me but I suppose if I was offered 500k I might sell it!”.
His work is certainly up there with the best and thankfully he had prints on sale tonight at a more affordable price which were snapped up by his many fans although he also sold a few of his original pencil works.
The exhibition opened to the general public the following Saturday (16 January) and included a talk by Rodney about his life his work and his inspirations, again well attended and a great insight into how he comes up with his amazing concepts.
It’s definitely an exhibition on two levels, with the fans having the close relationship via the music and on the pure art side where any of the pieces stand out in their own right.
The exhibition runs until Feb 24th.
Report and photos by Simon Dunkerley
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