Matthew Bradley describes his photographs as a collection of mental notes; a way to document, visually, the situations and environments he encounters on a regular basis. As his work has developed he is becoming more and more drawn to the idea of “making” images, whether they are physical constructions that are then photographed or images that are later constructed or distorted in Photoshop. His current approach results in pictures that appear to contain minor glitches, with certain elements repeated and others missing. However, most of Matthew’s images only veer from reality ever so slightly and because of this subtlety you don’t always catch it at first, until you look more intently.
“Towards the beginning of this year, I began to experiment with different editing techniques in my photographs,” he says. “I started to use these as a way to further remove subjects from their original context, to make new images that allow a different interpretation on things. The subtlety is important, as I want the edited images to blend in with the others, so that when looking at them in succession, you start to question the authenticity of each image based on the image that came before it.”
Increasingly, Matthew is viewing his work as a collection rather than looking at each picture individually, and he’s starting to consider how his images interact with one another. He attributes this shift to studying Curatorship at UCT last year, which helped him to become more critical of his own work. “It pushed me to think about what I am trying to communicate through my photographs,” he explains.
For Matthew, photography has always been a medium without limitations or boundaries. While he was studying towards his BA in Applied Design at Stellenbosch Academy, taking pictures became a reaction to the set briefs and projects he needed to complete every few weeks, something he could pursue entirely on his own agenda. Later, completing his honours in Curatorship formed a great bridge for him between the design and contemporary art worlds. At the moment he’s working at Whatiftheworld gallery while taking pictures whenever he’s able to and doing some freelance illustration on the side (look out for his food-inspired patches at our limited edition shop at the Street Food Festival on 26 July).
From here on out Matthew seeks to explore contemporary art further by working with artists and eventually getting involved in putting together exhibitions and print or online publications. Photography-wise, he’s ready to think seriously about the direction his work is headed in order to conceptualise a formal series of some sorts. “Basically,” he says, “I’m working towards doing something where I can bring together everything I have learnt in the past few years.”