Exhibition of Matthew Thompson

Come and see an exhibition of MATTHEW THOMPSON photos in our cooltour café!

MATTHEW THOMPSON follows the traditional calendar, both Christian and Pagan, seeking out rituals, traditions, mysteries, contradictions, archetypes, both ancient and modern, in a documentary way, looking for pictures that show more than just the content.

When did you start taking photos?
I first started taking pictures at the end of 2011, about the time, I moved to Ostrava.  When I came to Ostrava, my wife had shown me some pictures by local photographers that seemed to capture more than just the content they were showing, and I found them very interesting.  Maybe a few months later, I bought a cheap camera from the 1970’s, and started taking pictures for myself.  For a year or so, I just took pictures here and there, and by 2013, I started to become more systematic as to the kind of pictures I was interested in.

What is your favourite photo? Does it have some story behind?
At the moment, my favorite picture is likely the one of two children under the altar of a church during mass.  I walked with a group of mostly Polish pilgrims, walking from Velehrad to Czestochowa, for about two weeks, thinking that I might find some interesting pictures this way.  There were a number of children, and they were playing a bit, and all at once, they had this pose similar to the lamentation of Christ, the pieta, as you might see in Christian art.  It also was the last frame on the roll of film.  After that shot, I needed to change rolls, and the moment was gone.

Is there a reason why you are interested in Christian and Pagan traditions?
The traditions are just a tool to find the kind of pictures I’m interested in finding.  There are other tools, but this is a very helpful one.  I’m not necessarily as interested in documenting a specific tradition, but more in finding a specific sort of picture, and then seeing how a group of pictures might work together.  So, I might photograph for example, Holy Week in Poland or Spain, and at the same time, photograph a group of people during Vitani Jara, burning Morana, and throwing her into the Odra.

Tell us more about your journey to Santiago de Compostela.
I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer or traveler, and have always been interested in pilgrimages in this way.  The Camino de Santiago, I’ve actually walked a number of times, it’s just on the last journeys that I brought a camera.  Actually, the first time on the Camino, I walked with an American friend, who is a film-maker, and was he was constantly taking pictures, and I took none.  When I read something like Canterbury Tales, or the Decameron, or see paintings by Goya, pilgrimages have always been something of a contradiction, this sometimes deep piety and spirituality, mixed with revelry, and the contradiction interested me.

Curently, you are working on a project about the Odra river. Is that a topic which is close to your heart?
For the Odra, it is some personal connection. My grandmother grew up in Szczecin, at the end of the Odra, and my children were born in Ostrava, near the beginning. The river feels like something that ties something together in myself.