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'Baptism', Matthew Burrows

Painting of an imaginary scene with a building in the centre and a red sun above

Oil on linen, 65.5 x 72.3cm, 2005

Artist's statement

‘Up Down’ is where I go to paint. There is so much to say about what I find there that I have started from the beginning, depicting the sights, the people and their customs.

Gravity in ‘Up Down’ is the first and greatest commandment, yet does not have quite the same implications that we are used to.

The people of ‘Up Down’ are strictly forbidden to touch the floor. The protection their suits offer them is more cultural than pragmatic - as yet no-one has knowingly ventured onto terra firma. They live on what looks like a children’s playground complete with slides, swings and roundabouts.

At the centre of their community is a tent, a symbol of their migration to the new world and a metaphor for their bodily protection. The tent is entered only once a year by an elected member of the community. They spend a week in meditation there before climbing the steps of a great slide.

Upon descending the slide they cry the word for their god, a god whose name can only be uttered by this individual at this time each year. At all other times He/She is referred to as ‘****’.


Matthew Burrows was born on the Wirral in 1971. He studied at the University of Central England Birmingham 1990-93 and the Royal College of Art London 1993-95. He has shown in group exhibitions including Presence St. Paul’s Cathedral London 2004 and Folklore APT Gallery London. His solo exhibitions include A Divine Comedy which toured to Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester City Art Gallery and Huddersfield Art Gallery 2000-01, Flattering Overtures Eagle Gallery/Emma Hill Fine Art London 2003 and Anyone Here? Midlands Art Centre Birmingham 2003.