Scorched, 2009, wood and scorching. Photo courtesy of the artist and Bristol City Council. Photo: James Harris.


As part of the development of Colston Hall artist Matthew Harris was commissioned to develop a new work for the £2.2 million extension building designed by London architect Levitt Bernstein which includes a new foyer performance space and bar area.


Wrapping around the ground floor performance space, Scorched is a twelve metre long Graphic Score that has been cut and burnt into a wooden wall. The effect of the process is to create a drawn mark that is akin to that created by a number of textile processes such as Shibori and Ikat; and reflects those marks used by Matthew Harris in his more familiar work with paper and cloth.

Using the language of Graphic and experimental music notation, ‘Scorched’ has been designed to act as both a backdrop to performers and an interpretive starting point for possible future work by musicians, dancers and singers.

“I want to bring a drawn, graffiti like, human scale mark into what is quite a large open architectural space and to create something that whilst not a textile, has some of the visual qualities of one. The idea is to create something, which performers might respond to in some way with sound or movement. A drawing/score whose marks and signs can be interpreted as indications of certain sounds, musical phrases or physical movements.”

Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris is a graduate of the textile course at Goldsmiths College and has been working with textiles since 2000, having for the previous ten years made and exhibited drawings and works on paper. He has shown in a number of group and solo exhibitions throughout the U.K, Ireland and Japan.

Matthew Harris makes work that employs dying, cutting and hand stitching. It is concerned primarily with abstract imagery and the translation of drawn marks into cloth. By making work that is pieced, patched and assembled, he aims to create pieces that explore repetition, pattern and the disrupted or dissonant journey of line and image across and through the surface of cloth.

The artist's practice makes reference to a number of textile traditions but also to a wide variety of other sources and influences, including music. This interest was sparked by a friendship with the conductor Martin Brabbins, who showed him the highly individual language of notation employed by the composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen. With drawing and music coming together, this connection led to several commissions; in 2001 he was commissioned to make the backdrop for the Cheltham International Music Festival which later led to his work for Colston Hall; Harris's first large-scale public commission.


  • Commissioner

    Bristol City Council

  • Produced by

    Bristol City Council

  • Partners

  • Supported by

    Bristol City Council and Arts Council England