Background

Lathkill Dale #17 2009
Born in Nottingham, Matthew Conduit studied at Mansfield College of Arts and then completed a BA Hons Fine Art at Sheffield Polytechnic in 1981. Thereafter, he exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at 'Groundwork' at Impressions Gallery, York and 'Groundwork' and 'Industrial Valley' at the Axiom Centre For The Arts, Cheltenham. He was involved in various group exhibitions including Disturbed Ground at Collins Gallery, Glasgow (with Paul Hill, John Davies and Keith Arnatt) and 'Image & Exploration - Directions In British Photography 1980-85' at The Photographers Gallery, London.

Matthew was Director at the Untitled Gallery in Sheffield in the mid 1980's and relocated the gallery from the suburbs to its current location in the city centre in 1988 (now Site Gallery). He then worked for over 10 years developing the Cultural Industries Quarter, Workstation & Showroom Cinema complex in Sheffield, followed by ten years of as a freelance consultant developing buildings and facilities to support the creative sector and creative producers across the UK . Matthew stepped back from producing new work during this period, but started seriously making pictures again around 2004.

In 2009, he received an Arts Council England grant award to develop new work. Chora was first exhibited at the Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery (SIA) in Sheffield in 2011, and was his first solo show in over 20 years. A limited edition book, 'Chora', published by Contours featuring the work was launched alongside the exhibition. Further exhibitions of Chora followed at Woodend Gallery in Scarborough and the 2021 Arts Centre in Scunthorpe.

Matthew was commissioned to produce a new piece of work by Wirksworth Festival in Derbyshire under the'Situation Critical'curated programme, which was exhibited in September 2011 (see Quarry). |Matthew was awarded an honourable mention award in the Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2011.

The Chora book was featured in Materia Gallery's inaugural exhibition in Rome, in April 2015 ((http://www.materiagallery.com/on-lanscape-2--open-call.html)..

Matthew has also worked for many years with Heeley Development Trust in Sheffield, to redevelop the old Anns Grove School buildings, now Sum Studios, where Matthew’s studio is based and where he continues to develop new work. He also runs Untitled Print Studio to support his own production and to produce high quality pigment inkjet exhibition prints for other artists and photographers. See Untitled Print Studio page for further details.


Selected Text & Reviews

There is an elegant intensity to the way he renders the complexity of tree formations, which is enhanced by his careful use of vantage point and framing. You are drawn in by this, but cannot find a way through. They are not trees, they are implacable photographs.

Paul Hill, MBE, Photographer & Writer

What an extraordinary achievement. It has thrilled me to encounter such an exciting new body of work.

Roger Taylor, Photography Historian, Curator & Writer


Occursus / DLA Piper Exhibition
Sheffield, UK


Matthew Conduit’s imposing images have a quality of permanence and of powerful materiality. Whether the lens captures the immemorial stone of Wirksworth’ impressive quarries or the profuse wildlife of untamed woodlands in a more familiar England, Conduit translates the overwhelming visible stimuli that surround us, through a photographic production that is both realistic and intensely conceptual.

Whereas the horizontal composition of the images asserts the stability and compactness of the real, the acute awareness of colours, lines and variations within the frame realise an enticingly sensuous abstraction. Therefore, Conduit’s approach to specifically human imprints is more inclusive than actually dominant. In the artist’s generous and encompassing vision of the physical density that surrounds us, the presence of human beings is made manifest only through the account of disseminated traces and Time-swept relics, bold and monumental yet fragile as the intricate flora that bursts from the mesmerizing tableaux of his Chora series.

Violette Alfonsi, 2012


Chora' - New Photographs by Matthew Conduit.
Woodend Gallery, Scarborough, UK


When we consider recent government spending policies and, of course, cuts, public opinion remains divided, and generally apathy rules. The Brits however demonstrated a united front in 2011.

However, when faced with the proposed privatisation of woodland currently owned by the Forestry Commission, the country declared that it is determined to hold on to its shared inheritance.

Matthew Conduit’s pristine composite photographs, of brash surrounding his home turf, Sheffield, celebrate the baffling and unruly aspect of nature. He presents age-old questions relating to cultural identity, history, tradition and, importantly, preservation. These are grandiose images of verdant hinterland that remain open for us all to share and reflect on, and not take for granted!

He has vividly and sharply magnified flora, exposed and brutalized by the ravages of winter. The images are eerily still, yet loud: the peel of silver birch blazing across the picture frame or the cacophony of ivy creeping beyond the image intent on being heard beyond the frame. Somewhat like a portrait photographer, Conduit has captured the soul of the woodland.

Light abounds in Conduit’s photographs, and although there are no references to the horizon or sky, we are reminded of the magnificent and intricate chain of events that compose natural elements.

These images are the antidote to the conurbation: to entrenched, and monotonous living. Presented at eye level, the viewer could be mistaken for thinking they could step into the scene. Alternatively, the scene could intrude into the gallery and embrace you: we are dealing with controlled photographs of uncontrollable scenes.

The 3D quality of each image, reminiscent of Magic Eye pictures brings comparisons between the surface of these photographs and Jackson Pollock’s paintings. Parallels may be drawn, but Conduit’s photographs stand for a necessity to focus on detail as a metaphor for acknowledging the importance our own backyards – our common playground.

Jade Montserrat. July 2012


A Modern Romance
20-21 Arts Centre, Scunthorpe, UK


Matthew Conduit’s photographs are meticulous large scale studies of spaces on the edges of the city. Intricate, elegant and immaculately executed, they depict birch, hawthorn, bramble and buckthorn, excluded from any sense of landscape, pictorially removed from horizon and sky.

Whilst the images appear to represent the forces of 'pure nature', they are all in fact made within dormant areas on the urban borderline that have been altered, used and re-used in varying ways by man over centuries, and are in fact post industrial landscapes in one form or another.

Dominic Mason, 2012

Background