culture | 30 december 2017

mathew vickery's new photobook, 'residential parking', investigates the role the car plays in our current lives, and the fading romanticism of owning one.


photographs: mathew vickery

words: russell kleyn


Mat Vickery is a Wellington based photographer whose work explores the relationship between people, nature and consumerism. We chat to Mat about his work, and showcase a selection of his favourite images from Residential Parking, featuring the humble car. 


L&B: Hi Mat, how are you?
Mat: Hey Russell, I’m good thanks. Funnily enough, I just fixed the window switch in my car so I’ve saved myself some money instead of having to pay a mechanic. I’m stoked on that! 

Where are you from ?
I’ve moved around a fair bit. I was born in Southampton, a port city on England’s south coast. But I moved to Canada when I was a baby, so I don’t recall too much. I spent my childhood growing up in a town called Aurora, north of Toronto. Then when I was thirteen my family moved to Orewa, a little north of Auckland. And now, I’m based in Wellington. 


When did you get into photography?
I’m not too sure when kicked off, I took photos during family trips and whatnot growing up. When my granddad past away I inherited his old 35mm Pentax camera, I can’t recall what model it was, but it came with a few different lenses and a flash. This was my first real camera. At the same time, I was starting photography at high school, and they had a darkroom. So straight away I was shooting black and white rolls, developing them myself, then trying to make prints with an enlarger.


Do you own a car?
Yeah, I have a 1999 Saab 95. It’s a bit of a Frankenstein! It’s literally a combination of parts off mine and my Dad’s old Saabs. 

Is it really a case of ‘self publish, be happy’? 
I didn’t think too much of it. I was just stoked to have a project in print. I’m still young and starting out and I feel like you have to pay your dues and have a decent amount of work under your belt before you can get a publishing deal.  


What are some of the challenges around self publishing?

Parting with the money, *laughs.  Self-publishing is currently the only way I know. I’ve got a good group of friends and supportive girlfriend who I was able to get their opinions from pretty much every step of the way. I probably became a bit annoying, but it helped me a lot and gave me outside perspectives.


You’re off to Canada soon, what are you going to get up to over there?
Nothing set in stone but it’s closer to the rest world so would like to do a bit of travelling with my camera. Hopefully, find an art-related job. 

What are the similarities between Canada & NZ?
We both have highly rated landscapes that people travel to see from all over the world. The outdoors play a big part of our lives. We have similar ideologies and are amongst the most peaceful and friendliest countries. But, to be honest I think I was too young when I left Canada to properly answer this as an ex-pat. 

"New Zealand is just too small of a market for how many creative people there are"

Is it a challenge making a living as a young creative person in NZ?
Depends on how you define “making a living”. In terms of making a living off of just producing art, I think it would be an extreme challenge. There are only a handful of people who make a living off of their work. Many creative people have jobs to pay the bills. But if you have a job in your creative field and enjoy it, then you’re killing it in my opinion. New Zealand is just too small of a market for how many creative people there are; especially when you think of many people come out of university with art degrees.


How do you think the new Labour Government could support young New Zealand Creatives better?
Put more resources into the Arts and have more programs and grants for artists and galleries, along with encouraging creativity in schools. Although I’m not sure exactly, they could write off my student loan *laughs. 


What excites you most about photography?
Probably seeing a photo on the computer for the first time after getting it back from the lab, and figuring out if I got all the settings right for what I wanted when I exposing the film. 

"I just sold my digital camera. I’m definitely an analogue person"

Digital or film?

I just sold my digital camera. I’m definitely an analogue person, I like only having a limited amount of shots on a roll to work with. I don’t normally take many photos and rarely shoot more than a roll when I go out. I’ve got nothing against digital but for now, I shoot film. 


Containing 49 coloured photographs shot on medium format film, Residential Parking is the newest photobook by Mathew Vickery.  Accompanied with an introductory text by Bent. Find a copy of the book at: Bad News Books



Mathew Vickery:  @_mattyv 

Bad News Books:  @badnewsbooks



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