press

August 9th 2017

 

 

the real pyramid schemer finalist in the best awards for spatial exhibition and temporary structures

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August 3rd 2017

https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/arts/95268777/a-hatch-in-a-pyramid-is-open-and-communication-flows

A hatch in a pyramid is open and communication flows video

 Brought up in rural Manawatu, Matt Liggins loves some good old banter. Carly Thomas talked to him about the dying art of communication and what makes people happy.

Don’t put Matt Liggins in a box. Heck no, put him in a triangle.

A teeny three-sided temple with a beer crate for a seat – it’s his statement to the world, or at least his own beloved Kiwi backyard.

Matt Liggins' The Real Pyramid Schemer art installation project could pop up just about anywhere.

DANIAL ERIKSEN

Matt Liggins’ The Real Pyramid Schemer art installation project could pop up just about anywhere.

Liggins is an architect who despises run-of-the-mill houses. He is an artist who likes to make people smile – a teacher, a dreamer, a surfer and a man who can giggle like there is no tomorrow.

And it’s all mingled into a happiness-inducing art project called The Real Pyramid Schemer. It started out as a concept for Auckland Art Week. Liggins teaches architecture at the University of Auckland and he was approached by Deborah White, the Art Week organiser, to see if he or his students were keen to do an installation.

“I had about four put up their hands and we basically had to design something and then make it.”

Matt Liggins passes out some happy free art from his art installation project, The Real Pyramid Schemer.

DANIAL ERIKSEN

Matt Liggins passes out some happy free art from his art installation project, The Real Pyramid Schemer.

Liggins had been working on a series of “thought bubbles – all those things that you think but don’t think”. It was an off-kilter look at life with a healthy dollop of wry humour. And so he took that idea, turned it upside down and had a good look underneath.

“I wanted to be able to create these thought bubbles on the spot, but I also wanted to tap into what’s happening at the moment. I did this parallel artwork that’s basically all the pyramids on top of each other and the top one’s happy, it’s getting everything, and as you go down to the bottom all the workers are getting stuffed through the economy.”

Capitalism, greed, Trump, politics, poverty and frustration – “people are working more for less pay and it’s getting harder”.

Matt Liggins' art installation The Real Pyramid Schemer has popped up in some interesting places.

DANIAL ERIKSEN

Matt Liggins’ art installation The Real Pyramid Schemer has popped up in some interesting places.

It’s all very serious stuff, but Liggins is one of those people who looks for the bright light when things seem a bit drab.

The pyramid, from his drawing, got made into a plywood plain-faced beauty. Inside, it is decorated with historical family portraits photographed at the pyramids in Giza, a Sphinx and a diagram of the pyramid of social classes from 5000 years ago.

There is a hatch cut into its side that flips the pyramid’s face from sad to happy, and a jaunty little flag is plonked on top.

Matt Liggins' The Real Pyramid Schemer art installation project at last year's Auckland Art Week.

DANIAL ERIKSEN

Matt Liggins’ The Real Pyramid Schemer art installation project at last year’s Auckland Art Week.

“Free happy art” is what that little flag sings and inside is where Liggins sits, on his beer crate, awaiting someone to stop, bend down and look in through the hatch. He asks the looker-in what makes them happy and their response prompts a thought-bubble drawing that becomes uniquely theirs.

“I can anonymously connect with strangers – people that are doing the hard work, the grind – have a chat, break their day and just give out some good, happy vibes.”

He had a big old queue at Art Week – 250 drawings over four hours. The most common thing that made people happy? “Animals,” he says.

Matt Liggins hopes to bring people a bit of happiness with his art installation project, The Real Pyramid Schemer.

DANIAL ERIKSEN

Matt Liggins hopes to bring people a bit of happiness with his art installation project, The Real Pyramid Schemer.

“So many cats and dogs, which was amazing. Food, chocolate and, thank goodness, a lot said family. Boyfriends, girlfriends. I had people tell me their issues and I would just respond with something in a light-hearted way. Everybody deals with their own truths in a different way.”

It’s about communication and connection. Brought up in rural Manawatu, Liggins loves nothing more than a good old-fashioned, over-the-fence-style chinwag. But it’s something he says is getting lost.

“We have this anxiety or fear or shyness about talking. Having to respond to somebody, off the cuff and relating to people is something that we are getting less and less of.”

It’s why he’s giving the “free happy art” sign a rest at this year’s Art Week in October and replacing it with “free happy texts”.

The Real Pyramid Schemer will morph into Generation Text. The mouth opening of the pyramid will be latched up and instead of conversation people will be able to text Liggins inside and he will silently respond with a happy text and a thought about the continual loss of the art of conversation.

“It’s a total play on how we are now. People think that if you are open and talkative, you are high on P, or you’re wasted, or you’re drunk. People need to be human again, rather than a two-dimensional image on a screen. Hopefully, people will see the silliness and have a laugh at themselves.”

It’s kind of his motto for life, really: Have a look at the thing, think about the thing, talk about it, connect with it, laugh and then think of a more human way. It’s how he approaches teaching, what wave in the ocean to catch, his art and how to design homes that people will love deeply.

And it’s why he sits in a pyramid for hours, connecting with random people and maybe joining some dots that will change a person’s next step, or challenge a stagnated thought process. Or he might simply just make someone smile.

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Feburary 14th 2017

Inner West Courier Inner City

 

 

 

 


Wahine Magazine _November 16, 2016

http://www.wahinemag.com/single-post/2016/11/16/Matt-Liggins-The-Pyramid-Schemer

MATT LIGGINS: THE PYRAMID SCHEMER

What started it ‘The Pyramid Schemer’ tell us about your ‘Thought Bubbles’?

 

Well I started drawing thoughts and writing and illustrating them and putting them up on my wall, I’m an architect by day so I usually put sketches up there was one I drew with Pyramids and people and it got me thinking about communities and distribution of wealth and how the system functions.

 

What was the concept behind ‘The Pyramid Schemer’?

 

The pyramid scheme is about reaching out to people its about connecting and giving hope in small and large cities where people are isolated and forgotten or have little social life cause they are always working.

 

What are your future plans for ‘The Pyramid Schemer’?

 

I hope to bring the pyramid scheme to small towns and to public spaces or forums that draw awareness to people, and housing crisis and sharing our resources. By teaming up with brands I feel the pyramid scheme can make some really positive social change and connections

 

What kinds of thoughts and awareness does the Pyramid Schemer hope to share with the world?

 

The pyramid scheme hopes to give a voice and an outlet that connects with people of all nominations and to bring happiness into everyday lives.

 

Why is the pyramid schemer anonymous?

 

By being anonymous the pyramid schemer allows people to interact and to remove inhibitions and to have really human interactions or to speak their mind or feelings without judgment.

 

What ideas and tips do the pyramid schemer recommended for people this summer with sustainability and creativity?

 

I recommended people to go out and about in the neighborhood and to recycle found objects to use them for art or a project, to turn any unloved unwanted items into something useful.

 

What kinds of things do people ask for or talk to the pyramid schemer about?

 

There was one that really touched me, I felt it was relevant as connecting with being human and hopeful. One girl just broke up with her boyfriend so she asked me to draw something to cheer her up…so I drew her a triangle and lots of other triangles saying.

 

“It’s OK there are more triangles out there ”

 

Another couple said they love sex and love so I drew two triangles having sex.

 

Most people like cats, cheese and chocolate.

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Central Leader _ October 17th 2016

Architecture students gift whimsical playhouse to Epsom South Kindergarten

University of Auckland Architecture design lecturer Matt Liggins, second from left, with students who helped construct ...

University of Auckland Architecture design lecturer Matt Liggins, second from left, with students who helped construct the playhouses from recycled materials.

One lucky kindergarten is being gifted a playhouse made from recycled materials by a group of architecture students.

The whimsical house was one of four constructed by students from the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning.

It has been donated to Epsom South Kindergarten and is due to be delivered within the week.

 

 

The playhouses were constructed using recycled materials, including records, compact discs, an umbrella and car parts.

Matt Liggins, who teaches design to architecture students at the university, says the playhouses make a statement about sustainability and at the same time teaches first-year students the fundamentals of building.

“I got the students to go out and look around the streets and recycling bins and demolition yards to find stuff that was thrown away that could be reused to create something new.

“They came up with their own imaginative designs using all sorts of recycled materials and it was pretty exciting to see the small colourful buildings take shape,” he says.

 

Crushed drink cans are used as roofing for one of the playhouses.

Crushed drink cans are used as roofing for one of the playhouses.

Liggins says the playhouses were constructed as part of a stage one paper in workshop construction that was offered for the first time this year.

“This has been a good way to open their eyes to see what products we are throwing out that can be used again.

“They are getting a grasp of the importance of sustainability and the environment in their first year of study and can use this throughout their degree and into their futures.”

 

Architecture students Leo Nishimura, Dorien Viliamu and Rosemary Li, front, sit in one of the four playhouses.

Architecture students Leo Nishimura, Dorien Viliamu and Rosemary Li, front, sit in one of the four playhouses.

The students were given a framing plan for the houses and were expected to make timber framing, and build watertight and insulated or lined structures with a door and non-breakable windows.

Liggins says there are some great examples of buildings made of recycled products around the world, but the practice has not become common in New Zealand yet.

“Hopefully, by getting our architecture students thinking about this, they will become architects who contribute to change in the built environment by integrating sustainability into their designs.”

Head teacher at Epsom South Kindergarten Julie Sadlier says the playhouse will be a great way to teach its pupils about sustainability.

“A recycled playhouse provides a practical lesson for the children in a delightfully fun way,” she says.

Sadlier says the staff hope the playhouse will spark the children’s imagination, while also teaching them about the numerous ways of recycling.


NZ Herald_ October 12th 2016

Building project teaches lessons about sustainability

By Dionne Christian

Recycled Playhouses, made by first year Auckland University architecture and planning students,use recycled and reclaimed materials. Photo:Jason Oxenham.

Recycled Playhouses, made by first year Auckland University architecture and planning students,use recycled and reclaimed materials. Photo:Jason Oxenham.

Discarded CDs and vinyl records, ice cream container lids and bottle tops, wooden pallets and plastic bags are not your usual building materials, but a group of architecture students have used them to create four of the most pleasing playhouses you ever saw.

And they did it with virtually no budget.

The first year students at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning were requested to make something for Artweek so tutor Matt Liggins asked if they were up for challenge.

Working in groups of three or four, they had to design, plan and build playhouses using only recycled materials and $75 each for timber and cement. The playhouses also had to be watertight, with cladded roofs, and students were forbidden to use power tools.

Mr Liggins says they’ve done him proud by coming up with four different playhouses built from a range of materials everyday folks leave behind while every nail has been hammered by hand and every piece cut using hand-saws or scissors.

Student Joseph Trace says it was grubby work at times, going through rubbish and recycling bins and scouring building sites and wreckers’ yards for suitable materials.

But he and his classmates say they’ve learned valuable lessons about team work, time management – they had just three weeks to complete the project – building methods and the limits of certain materials.

Mr Liggins says it also encourages students, right from the outset of their training, to consider sustainability and recycling.

The playhouses will be donated to childcare centres, including one at Auckland University, but the public can see them in Lorne Street on Wednesday evening as part of Artweek’s Late Night Art. Other university projects will also be displayed around Lorne, High and Fort Streets to show the range of work and research done at the School of Architecture and Planning.

Several galleries in the area, including Auckland Art Gallery, will be open late and StreetARTdego sees central city food trucks and artists join forces to create unique dining experiences.


Auckland University Website _ May 2016

Students learn about building fundamentals and sustainable design

Rosemary Li sits in one of the playhouses.

Stage one Architecture student Rosemary Li in one of the recycled play houses.

If you want to see something that will make you wish you were a child again, check out the delightfully whimsical, sustainably built playhouses in the NICAI courtyard at 22 Symonds Street.

Metal and plastic bottle caps, plastic bags, ice cream container lids, compact discs, rubber, and flattened aluminium drink cans are among the materials used to make the fanciful little buildings.

The playhouses make a statement about sustainability and at the same time are teaching first-year architecture students the fundamentals of building. Two are complete and another two will be built before the end of the first semester.

NICAI’s Matt Liggins, who teaches first and second-year design for Stage One architecture students, says the School of Architecture is offering a first-year paper in workshop construction for the first time this year.

In the process of finding out about nogs, studs, joists and the like, the students are gaining practical building experience and also learning about recycling and integrating sustainable thinking into their designs.

“I got the students to go out there and look around the streets and recycling bins and demolition yards to find stuff that we throw away that can be re-used to create something new,” Matt says.

“They’ve come up with their own imaginative designs using all sorts of recycled materials and it’s pretty exciting to see the bright and colourful small buildings they’ve created.”

The students were given a framing plan for the houses and were expected to make timber framing and build watertight and insulated or lined structures with a door and non-breakable windows.

“This has been a good way to open their eyes to see what products we are throwing out that can be used again,” Matt says. “They are getting a grasp of the importance of sustainability and the environment in their first year of study and can use this throughout their degree and into their futures.

“There are some great examples of buildings made of recycled products around the world where, instead of demolishing and throwing away masonry, concrete and tiles, these materials are re-used to create something new.

“This is not common practice here, yet. But hopefully, by getting our architecture students thinking about this, they will become architects who contribute to change in the built environment by integrating sustainability into their designs.”


Artist Profile_May 2016_Micheal Johnson Studio

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studio


Architecture NZ _ November / December 2015

Auckland Architecture Week_ Pecha Kucha_


The design files_Wednesday 10th September 2014

Dion Horstmans, Grace Barnes-Horstmans and Family

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Living room details. Coffee table made by Dion, both artworks hanging on the wall are by Matt Liggins, who Dion says is ‘mad as a cut snake, I love his work’. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

If there’s one thing we LOVE around here, it’s a home decorated boldly and with confidence. Such is the Bondi apartment of Sydney artist Dion Horstmans, his wife Grace Barnes-Horstmans and Dion’s two teenage daughters Juna and Zaza, who split their time between here and their Mum’s place in Byron Bay.

Dion and Grace have been here just 18 months, but have wasted no time in making the place their own.  When they first took possession, all the walls were white.  Dion’s first priority was injecting colour into the space.  From the dark, moody master bedroom and dining rooms to punchy orange in the living space, and sunny yellow in ZaZa’s room, the palette is consistently bold, yet supremely sophisticated.  Quite a feat!  But Dion is good like that.

Dion’s decisive creative vision and incredible way with colour should come as no surprise.  After all, he is an incredible artist his own right.  (You might recall our interview with him here!).  I adore Dion’s striking angular metal sculptures, which always seem ready to scuttle across the walls on which they are mounted.  You’ll spot many of these pieces throughout his apartment, as well as artworks by various other Australian artists,  collected over many years.

‘The artworks on the walls are our favourite things’  says Dion.  ‘The primitive and ethnographic pieces scattered through our home are also pretty awesome. It’s been a life time love affair, we are collectors’.  Alongside treasured antiques and collectibles, many contemporary artists are represented here, including Stephen Ormandy,  Matt Liggins, Phil James, and indigenous artists such as Roy Wiggan to name a few.

Aside for a passion for art, Dion and Grace also have an impression collection of furniture and design pieces, both new and old.  ‘My favourite piece of furniture would be my bed!’ says Dion enthusiastically. ‘I designed and made it, formed ply with a beech veneer. It’s beautiful, really simple clean lines. I tried to create it so it looked like it hovered above the ground… not dissimilar to my ’64 pontiac!’.

Dion is a gregarious character – in many ways he is larger than life!  He’s a proud Dad and happy newly wedded husband, but he also treasures his alone time.  ‘I love everything about this apartment’ he says.  ‘I love the high ceilings, there’s enough room to get away from every one. I love sitting in the living room listening to music, I love cooking with Gracie, I love my dark bedroom’.  Mainly though, the drawcard of this apartment is the beach. ‘Mostly I love that the Pacific Ocean is less than two blocks away, constantly beckoning for us to bathe in it’ Dion says.  Because really, no matter how beautiful your house is… nothing beats having the beach at the end of your street!


April 2015, Manawatu Standard, New Zealand

Matt Liggins reckons he has things just about in balance with his day job as an architect and his love of making art, because for him they are polar opposites.

“I love architecture, but you are dealing with a lot of people along the way, with my painting it’s just me and I love that. There’s no rules.”

Liggins was brought up in Tokomaru and Palmerston North and has just moved back to New Zealand after living in London and Sydney. He is now based in Auckland where he is teaching architecture at Auckland University and said he was really happy to be having an exhibition at Palmerston North’s White Room Gallery.

“This will be my second Palmy show, it’s good to be back here. The exhibition name Northwest by Northwest is because I hate the northwest wind and it’s a bit of a play on Hitchcock.”

Liggins’ work is eclectic and he said his ideas and influences came from everywhere.

“I sketch a lot, I have boxes of sketch books and ideas and I take loads of photos. I try to translate it all and connect ideas with other ideas.”

Liggins paints, draws, sculpts, uses mixed media and computer-aided drawing and said he was often drawn to themes around New Zealand culture.

“We are a culture infatuated by rugby and drinking and some of my work is a bit of a critique of that.”

The exhibition also references music and the places he has travelled, a house that he designed and a critique of Google’s ‘rules of designing a house’.

“I don’t want to be put in a box and anything can get into my art – what’s on the news, what I’m reading, the internet, other artists like Dick Frizzell.

I am always excited by what he will do next.”


April 2013, Manawatu Standard, New Zealand

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Matt Liggins moves seamlessly between the two worlds of art and architecture.

As an architect he’s worked for millionaire clients with unlimited budgets, but as a painter and sculptor, Liggins loves working with recycled and other material he’s found.

Matt Liggins has come a long way since his days growing up on his parents’ dairy farm and attending Tokomaru School.

The winner of a National Bank scholarship for the top grade in technical drawing while at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Liggins went on to study architecture at the University of Auckland.

There he picked up the senior prize for architecture in his third year, graduating in 2002 with a Bachelor of Architecture Studies and a Bachelor of Architecture with honours.Liggins could easily have made art his career and when he left school he had to make the hard decision as to which of the two loves he would make his career – art or architecture.

“I did art all through high school and the question was, do I go to art school or do I study architecture? I think getting top in the country for technical drawing was why I chose architecture. I’d always loved it, but I have an equal love for art.”

Following his graduation Liggins worked for a year at Tauranga-based Dennis Pocock Architects on residential and commercial projects before heading overseas to London.While in London he worked for the Girls’ Day School Trust for three years as project architect, working on various conservation and educational conservation projects around the United Kingdom.

During his time in Sydney Liggins worked alongside New Zealand timber company APL, designing eco-friendly cyclone-proof low-cost houses for the Pacific Islands.

He also worked for award winning Renato D’Ettorre Architects for four years, gaining considerable experience and knowledge in high-end residential projects.“He was one of the top architects over there and I worked on projects in Hamilton Island, New York and Sydney. It was great experience, working with millionaire clients with massive budgets.”

After 10 years working for others, Liggins established the Matt Liggins Studio in 2012 with the aim of producing bespoke residential projects for individual sites.

The studio also offers the opportunity for buyers to enhance their homes with other forms of Liggins’ art such as painting, drawing and sculpture.

“It’s something I wanted to pursue for some time. Architecture is my bread and butter but maybe it [combining the two] will come off.

Liggins says he wants his art works to enhance his architectural projects and hopes clients will look at incorporating his art in the homes he designs for them.“I think everything is intertwined and my paintings may influence my next building project.I find one affects the other.”

Since setting up his own studio Liggins has worked on several projects, including a new build near Palmerston North for an old school friend.“I’m also working on two renovation projects, one in Paddington and one in Petersham, and I’ve done one in Melbourne for an old Palmy boy.”

The friend Liggins designed the Linton home for had bought an extensive hilltop site with views in every direction that cannot be built out. He wanted a low-cost home that took advantage of those views.“It uses ply cladding on a timber frame and faces due north so it makes use of passive solar heating. It has big sliding doors at the front and the kitchen has bifold windows so you can pass food out to the deck.”

Liggins did the plans in Sydney after just one visit to the hilltop site.“My friend was project manager and I came back once in August to have a look and then went back to Sydney. When I came back at Christmas he had moved in. It was a really simple build – that’s the beauty of going to an architect.”

Favourite artists include Colin McCahon, Ralph Hotere and Manawatu’s Shane Cotton and Pat Hanly.“Pat Hanly was my tutor at Auckland University [Hanly taught drawing at the University of Auckland School of Architecture]. He was a fantastic lecturer.”

Liggins says the downside of all the travel he has done since leaving Manawatu is not having a large studio space where he can have everything set up permanently.“I do love living in Sydney but I also love living in new places and I’d love to live in New York.”

This is the first time I’ve had a solo exhibition in New Zealand.“The last time I had any of my work on show in Palmerston North was in 2002 when I graduated from university and my architecture stuff was in a show with 10 artists as part of the Winter Arts Festival.

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Originally from Tokomaru, New Zealand, his earliest paintings reflect the landscape and environment of his childhood life in the countryside.

He has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and America which has provided much subject matter for his works.

He won the National Bank School Scholarship for the top grade in New Zealand for technical drawing in Bursary Examinations 1995 and the Senior Prize for Architecture at Auckland University for excellence in Design in 2000.

His aesthetic has a juvenile and playful “art brut” sensibility, his desire to create with lack of restriction lies in contrast to the functional nature of his work in architecture.

Matt says of his practices: “I spent a lot of time with computers from a young age, in my mid-teens I rebelled against computer’s but I was forced back into it at university. Working as an architect we didn’t make many physical models, it was all done on computers. It got to a breaking point where I decided I prefer to be out of the office, away from computers and spend more time making art with my hands”.

December 2012, Janet Clayton Gallery, Sydney