Five from the archive: photographer Matt Kelly shares wild tales and global adventures
By Alex James Taylor | Art | 30 July 2021

Teenagers jump into the River Liffey on the day gay marriage was legalised in Ireland. Dublin 2015.

Last year, Matt Kelly released his acclaimed photography book, Fine Dining 2099, documenting his time as part of London’s ‘Fine Dining’ collective during 2013-2018. Through squats, studios, after-parties and mornings after, the intimate 35mm shots capture the vivacious intensity of London’s nightlife at the time, while also crystallising Kelly’s practice: first forged when he given a camera in his mid-teens by his photographer grandad and became the resident cameraman in his friendship group. Having already dug through his archive for a special feature inside the HERO Summer Zine 5, we asked Kelly to select five more photos and share the stories behind them.

Sneezing dog, Vienna, Austria, 2016.

“From my book Fine Dining 2099. I was outside a small gallery in Vienna where a friend-of-a-friend was exhibiting his graduate art project. I was drinking and mingling with people outside and this german shepherd sat down next to me. Having an affinity for dogs, I knelt down to take its portrait. As I pressed the shutter the dog let off a big sneeze; I didn’t think much of it at the time but when I developed the negatives some weeks later this frame made me laugh.

Vienna, 2016.”

Skateboards donated by western sponsors stay in their lockup between skate sessions for local boys and girls. Jayyus, West Bank, Palestine. June 2018.

“In 2018 an assisting job was cancelled and I was left with the non-refundable ticket to Tel Aviv. A friend of mine had just returned from Palestine’s West Bank where he was volunteering as a skate instructor for non-profit SkateQilya. Eager to find out more about the program, I took the flight and made my way from Tel Aviv into the West Bank.

SkateQilya had just built their second skatepark and had worked with western skate shops to secure the boards and helmets needed to get the kids rolling. After the skate sessions the boards are locked up for safe-keeping until the next days session. For me, a skateboard or bicycle represents freedom for any young person. This photo highlights the privilege I had as a youth where my wheels where always available.”

Jayus, West Bank Palestine, 2018.

Social Documentary photographer Amelia Troubridge photographed in London in 2018.

“Meeting Amelia Troubridge (and working for her as an assistant) was hugely influential for me as I could really relate to her subject matter, and being around her archive was very inspiring. Her work taught me that documentary photography doesn’t always have to live within the confines of information and current affairs, which was reaffirming as a beginner trying to find my own direction. Her pictures and lifestyle are full of chaotic energy and I think this photo of her reflects this.”

London, 2017

Teenagers jump into the River Liffey on the day gay marriage was legalised in Ireland. Dublin 2015.

“I took this photo whilst wandering around Dublin, it was the day that gay marriage was legalised and the streets were full of energy. I’m always drawn to action and enjoy jumping off things myself so I was happy to see these three kids jumping off a railway bridge into the River Liffey. I cropped out the river at the bottom of the frame for dramatic effect.”

Dublin, 2015.

“From my book Fine Dining 2099. I took this photograph on a hot summers day at the popular London swimming spot Shadwell Basin. I love the final result; a true feeling of summer in the city.”

London, 2017.

Corfu Airport, 2019.

“I remember seeing Dennis Stock’s 1968 photo of a plane’s shadow on Playa Del Rey behind LAX airport and I was blown away by it’s composition and use of scale. I had the opportunity to go to LA some years later as a photo- assistant; on my one morning off I rushed down to Playa Del Rey to see if I could capture my own version. On arrival, the skies clouded over and there was no way the flat light would yield any shadows.

This photograph was taken at Corfu airport in 2019, a far cry from Dennis’ epic image but a first attempt at a picture which I’ll continue searching for.”

Corfu, Greece, 2019.

Follow Matt Kelly on Instagram.
Fine Dining is available now. 


Read Next