Toby Paterson finds inspiration in what might seem the most unpromising of places, including the concrete landscapes of post-war housing schemes and the decaying remains of utopian building projects. His work stems from an interest in the ideas of architects who were influenced by Modernism and working in the post-war period. He draws on first-hand experiences of visiting and recording built environments around the world, but his artworks go far beyond simply documenting such places: he creatively interprets and re-imagines architectural spaces. Architecture is the starting point from which he explores the effects of the passage of time on the spaces that surround us, hinting at the economic, social or political ideas behind building projects.
Paterson studied painting, and the painted image remains central to his art. The large wall painting Apollo (2001) shows the strikingly sculptural concrete form of Victor Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion (completed 1970) set against a background of coloured shapes and seemingly isolated, out of time, in its setting. The work was made following Paterson’s first visit to the new town of Peterlee, County Durham, where Pasmore, an artist, working as the consulting director of urban design oversaw an experimental and forward-thinking landscaped housing project.
Paterson is particularly drawn to architectural projects that are deliberately overlooked or thought of as unsuccessful and left vulnerable in the face of encroaching urban change. Close to home this has led to various works examining the projects of the Scottish architectural practice Gillespie, Kidd & Coia during the period 1956–87 and elsewhere buildings in London, Warsaw and The Hague.
His exhibition Quotidian Aspect at Le Grande Café, Saint-Nazaire, France (2012) demonstrated how he constructs complex architectural spaces to view his work. He complements his painted, wall-mounted works with freestanding, sculptural display structures, models and reliefs made of aluminium, wood or Perspex™.
As well as working in galleries, Paterson has undertaken many commissions for indoor and outdoor public spaces. Works such as Powder Blue Orthogonal Pavilion (2008) have brought his art closer in nature to the buildings and spaces that inspire him.