Matthew Hodson

Matthew Hodson is a writer, educator and illustrator from Leeds. Employing naive and expressive line work, bold compositions and playful graphic forms, Matthew aims to make work that feels immediate, irreverent and sincere. Growing up in the rural north of England, he is fascinated by natural phenomena, regional and seasonal distinctiveness and the mischief of untethered play.

His writing works as an extension of his sketchbook, where observation and reflections take shape through a playful and nonsensical approach. He is interested in the performative nature of drawing and writing and is always seeking to capture the moment of free play present in his notebooks.

“I started this project by going through my phone, reading notes and revisiting photos. It was nice, it made lockdown look fun and reminded me how much we did, all the dens and games and mess we enjoyed making. We look like good parents, we were trying our best. But then, I didn’t take any photos of the shouting or shaving my head or the panic attack I had that bath time. I didn’t want to illustrate those things, they’re behind us now. In a magical way, it feels like the unrelenting and irrepressible energy of my children has since been a remedy to the damage done by lockdown.

These images seek to capture their physicality. At the start of lockdown our eldest was 2 and a half and his brother had just turned 1, a toddler and a baby. What stood out from my research was the ways in which their bodies and energy seemed to be in a constant dialogue with their surroundings. Toddlers have little regard for the confines of their space, whether personal or physical. They climbed, hid, pulled and pushed against the walls, against the furniture, against us and each other.

The compositions of these illustrations are trying to capture that tension. Likewise, the minimal nature of each poster is an attempt to focus on each particular moment, a costume, a wrestle, a cuddle. I worked digitally to distance me and the children from the work in part and to focus more on the collective experience. I want the illustrations to read as an advocacy for the inexhaustible energy of children and their ability to play regardless of their circumstances.”