Matthew Shiell grew up in Portugal but he is of Irish/Northern Irish descent. He is drawn to the idea of cultural identity, considering himself a storyteller first and foremost, and is highly invested in creating still and moving image artworks. He works with a variety of drawing mediums and artistic disciplines, including animation, illustration, and sequential art. In his professional life, Matthew has storyboarded a number of short animated films for various clients, including the OPW, and he has also taught a variety of extracurricular art classes. Matthew exhibited in the IADT student show High Heart at Pallas Projects/Studios (2021).
Matthew’s project centres on his investigation of visual narratives, observed from the way people occupy space. Due to his international upbringing in both Ireland and Portugal, he is fascinated by how geographical and emotional connections constitute an integral part of personal identity. These connections can help shape concepts of physical and mental space, and also memories of lived experiences. His work features line drawings of individuals, adapted from photographs and then simplified to the point of cartoon-like iconography. Through this mixture of varied groupings and spatial relationships, his work suggests the possibility of unspoken personal relationships between each figure. The figures are also presented individually in a video, flashing one after the other in a randomised order - suggesting a crowd that is simultaneously occupying the same realm, but are also wholly isolated. This can certainly can be read as a response to the current situation, when the boundaries of our very personal spaces act as a direct protection from potential threat.
My thesis explores the ways in which comics function as an unique medium of storytelling, using the Structuralist theory of Semiotics. I specifically focused on the comic artwork of Bernard Krigstein, a mid 20th Century comic artist, in order to highlight the identifiers of the medium’s signs and visual language techniques - especially how it adopts space as a representation of time.