Western Cape born, Matthew Bradley, grew up in the farming community of Vyeboom and studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography. During his studies, he discovered the camera and began to experiment with photography as a reaction to the formal design briefs and projects that he had to complete as part of his degree. He is interested in the idea of making images, whether they be physically constructed or photographed and then later reconstructed in Photoshop.
Matthew has also studied Curatorship with the University of Cape Town, which pushed him towards thinking about his photographs as a collection rather than singular images. This raised his interests on how images interact with one another, and how one image will affect the reading of the next. With this in mind, he incorporates contemporary photographic techniques and tools such as Photoshop to create a body of work in which he explores familiar environments attempting to reinterpret objects or situations that he encounters on a regular basis.
Read more about his approach to the medium of photography and what he envisions.
Shots011: Why Photography?
MB: For me photography is a good way to explore and realize ideas that I have or think about. It started out as a medium that allowed me to make things completely free of any restrictions or an end goal that I had to complete, and I am really drawn to that.
Shots011: What is the camera to you, what’s the kind of relationship you share with it?
MB: I was very interested with the mechanics of cameras when I started taking photographs. Obsessed with the different types of cameras and the technical aspects etc. But over time I have become less concerned about the actual camera, and more focused on what I can do with a camera. Now it helps me to collect things and make mental notes of things I encounter.
Shots011: Who is a friend/contemporary you admire?
MB: My girlfriend, Jessica Kempton-Jones. She is one of the most authentic people I have met.
Shots011: Who has been your greatest influence, and why?
MB: I think my family is my biggest influence. Their continual support is really motivating.
Shots011: What’s your favorite period in art history and why?
MB: The present. All the work I really appreciate has been made quite recently. For me, the work that is being made now is the most exciting. There is so much, it can be overwhelming at times, but I particularly like how the Internet has opened everything up. It feels like everyone is able to contribute.
Shots011: Besides visual art, what other medium do you rely on to incorporate into your work?
MB: I find a lot of inspiration outside of visual art, mainly film and non-fiction books. I have always liked stories that are quite heavily based on realty, but reality that seems strange or uncanny. This is something I have tried to bring into my work.
Shots011: How have your studies in applied design and curatorship, and your stay at the Whatiftheworld Gallery influenced your work and its direction?
MB: I started off by studying illustrations and graphic design which was obviously quite invested in making work for commercial purposes. Curatorship introduced me more formerly to the contemporary art world and I began to see the value of holding exhibitions, which was something I’d like to explore a bit more. Working with the gallery has helped me bring these two together. I have been able to use the skills I have learnt during my studies, and I guess I’ll see where that takes me.
Shots011: What do you want viewers to take away from your work?
MB: I’d like viewers to question the images that they are presented with, and what they believe to be either reality, or a construction.
The following 10 questions are originally from a French series, “Bouillon des Culture” hosted by Bernard Pivot. They’re better known as the questions that James Lipton asks every guest at the end of “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. Their addition to this questionnaire is to get to know a bit more about Matthew the person, a bit more about Matthew outside photography.
What is your favorite word?
I cant say that I have one.
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on creatively?
Mystery and confusion.
What turns you off?
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of spray-carts on farms.
What sound or noise do you hate?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
Anything related to finance.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Bottomless pizza inside.