Swansea Museum Residency: Matthew Thompson

Mission Gallery are working in partnership with Swansea Museum to create space for an artist in resident to explore and develop their work in response to  the Museum’s photographic archive for artistic research.

The chosen artist for this residency is Matthew Thompson, a BA (Hons) Photography in the Arts graduate from the Swansea College of Art, University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Highly commended for his degree show work Mission Gallery felt that this residency would be beneficial to his practice.

​His work represents a personal pursuit of significance within the vernacular, the everyday. By photographing the world aroundhim, everyday movements and engagements serve as means to form a narrative; highlighting poignant moments, reminding – to quote Barthes – of what has been. As a photographer, this relationship with the transient becomes a form of meditation. Responding to curiosity with little conscious contemplation involved, he takes an intuitive approach at the time of photographing. In subsequent editing and sequencing, he embraces formality. The images exist in the moment they took place – interested only in the atmosphere that emerges.​


Matthew: My work has always been centred around this notion of the found; I don’t like to plan or intervene with subjects. For me it has become really important to aim to approach things with equanimity. I’m really attracted to the idea of reacting to something intuitively through photography.

I entered the residency with very minimal knowledge and experience of Swansea Museum itself, and what struck me straight away was the volume of items, all logged, categorised and stored away somewhere. I immediately started to photograph items within this collection, but was drawn towards the objects, over things like the paintings and photographs.

For me the endless props and items I found almost bizarre.

I often think about photography within book form and in a linear and sequential fashion and want to re-appropriate as much of the Museums archive as possible into my own catalogue, hopefully pulling out interesting juxtapositions.

I want to try and form an abrasive relationship between images, something that doesn’t sit too neatly or easily on the page. I’m not entirely sure why I am feeling this way inclined so far but I’m hoping that will become clear through the next two weeks. It may perhaps be to do with the surface disorder that surrounds the clearly heavily organised nature of the whole archive. There are these pockets of seeming disorder, where things appear to have been pushed aside, forgotten and almost hoarded. That is what appeals to me most through the archive.

Anything that is property of Swansea museum I want to try and utilise, whether that be something that is a part of the official archive, or something that sits quietly to the side. For instance, I’ve been down to the cellar underneath the museum, I’ve photographed parts of the buildings I’ve been in, in search of something interesting to explore.

Ultimately I want to have photographed thousands of things within the granted time-frame and then work the images down into a coherent body and sensible number.



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