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Matthew Bradley


“There is the line and there is crossing the line. Then there is making your own path...“

(excerpt from Artists Statement, 2006

Works chronology  
Miscellaneous terminator2008 Miscellaneous chicken2012 Miscellaneous 2015gobi DestroyerofWorlds AEAF  
Artists Notes, Destroyer of Worlds, 2016

Time is the fire in which we burn

The physical appearance of one of my first 'failed' metal casting experiments began a trajectory of thought which gave rise to an imagined narrative of a Precambrian Earth/Alien encounter. In this narrative; during a great battle in space, set against a boiling black Earth, gouged and crackling with volcanic lava, fragments of the debris of a destroyed spacecraft fall through the proto-atmosphere toward the surface of the planet. Something about the surface texture of this early casting suggested to me the patina one might expect of an ancient alien relic. Something exotic was possesed by and expressed by the materiality of this object, in the specific configuration of its particles suspended in space. The very alienness of the thing itself failed to undermine the emerging fiction, somehow in fact it lent it some plausability. The material reality of the artefact Remnant is unequivocal. It has a presence as a thing with real mass and weight, a presence that bears the evidence of its coming into being. It is a factual relic of a casting event. Its appearance is not simulated, it’s a direct result of the method and moments of its creation and it asserts a truth of being that is uninterrupted and uncorrupted right the way through and beyond its subatomic dimentions. It also has, by chance, and attempted managed failure, the patina one might expect of an object that fell through the atmosphere, onto the surface of the Earth, was folded into the Earths crust, melted by geologic heat, recast in its Earthen mould and finally excavated a billion and a half years later.

Andromeda,  What would it be like to be a superbeing, What would it be like to have superpowers, to skip from galaxy to galaxy, planet to planet simply by casting your gaze. Andromeda is the golden leg of a super being, an artefact from our nearest galaxy. It was formed around a cast of my own leg. It looks like a piece of lower leg armour, like a piece of iron mans suit but without all the weaponry. In my mind it differs from the traditional suit, it has special properties. For instance, a traditional suit is made up of pieces which are specifically moulded for one part of the body, and which are not exchangeable with any other part; you cannot wear a shin piece on your head for instance. However this piece could be the whole rather than a fragment. It could be caught mid-transformation, shifting from a non-human machinic object and growing into a human form, exploiting compatibility at a sub-atomic level. Also, is there a vulnerable being inside it which is being protected? Perhaps not, perhaps it is the thing in itself, a thoughtform, a vitality, or a potentiality of being that is traversing matter. It has become a vehicle through which I can speculate on latent potentialities present and extant within matter itself. Might we or do we already enter into assemblages with matter that extend our abilities or further, enable unlimited access to manifold forms of being.

There is infinity in vessel design, an inexhaustible catalogue of possible forms. I've decided to stay a while in this infinity, for the time it takes me to make One Hundred Vessels. Can these One Hundred vessels world, can each of them bring forth a whole world, a whole other infinity itself? Worlds with their own atmospheres, geology, flora and fauna, cultures, peoples, systems of beliefs, political structures, universes, such that shifting ones gaze between them might cause a sensation of geographic, psychic, cosmic and temporal drifts. Together they sit, worlds upon worlds upon worlds. Worlds unrecorded in human history, interstices between known civilisations. Lost, buried, excavated.

So far, as far as castings go, many of the vessels have been failures, but it is important to the overall project that they are included in the set. The set of one hundred, when finished, should tell the whole story of my development and gradually improving ability as a metal caster. This journey should be evident in the vessels themselves. There should be evidence of struggle and of failure, there should be evidence of technical breakthroughs as well as observable periods where ambition, inspiration and imagination flourishes. From a practical point of view, the ultimate goal is significant bridging of the gap between what can be imagined and what can be technically produced.

In the centre of this group of works sits the furnace that I built at the beginning of this adventure. A crucible full of molten bronze, as it comes out of the furnace, looks like a small sun. The furnace is a sun factory or galaxy. These little suns form the centre of a new solar system in my backyard. All my efforts, my labour and my dreams orbiting this little furnace. In the gallery the furnace is cold and silent, all its heat and light has radiated out into space. The time of this little furnace is known as The Year of a Thousand Suns. The sun is the giver of life, in whose warmth and light we reside for a time. When a sun dies, its core contracts, the helium atoms in the core fuse together forming carbon atoms under the enormous pressure of its own gravity. It is thought that dead suns are full of diamonds.

Matthew Bradley


Each vessel is empty; it contains no soil
and rooted plant or seed, no flower or
foliage arrangement, no wax and
wick, no honey-steeped gauze and organ,
no dried rose petals, and no
ash. Each vessel contains, is filled with,
its own emptiness. Though each vessel
will have come to contain, be filled with,
the difference between A: the inanimate
“man-made” vessel that is embodied in the
cast bronze, aluminium, brass, etc., and B: the
animate “made-as-man” vessel of the human
body, cast in the womb of its mother, present,
taking-place in the world—still warm
from the kiln. That is, each vessel
will have come to contain, be filled with,
for a while, each given while, each
viewer’s unique print of their circulating
ions of an attention upon it. But when I
see any one of these vessels have I not
been dead for thousands upon
thousands of years? But are not all the
disappeared minds and hearts and hands of
peoples and times which constitute the
multifarious origins of these vessels as
a single unfolded, stretched, and torn
to shreds and put back together again
with parts missing body-of-work
the design and production of a single,
solitary artist? That is, each vessel is born
a relic, and remains a newborn relic,
ageless, in general, without a history,
without a world, specifically in general,
a relic for today, a relic for this
moment that is already gone, reborn
under a black bone dry lightening
knotted sky—like a churning slab of
charcoaled brain in the throes
of an horizonless epiphany—as a spindly Möbius
strip-shaped plume of red radioactive dust,
random motes of which fleetingly land upon and
pass along and rebound off a cast
bronze vessel’s surfaces. It may be many
more thousands of years before I see again
another vessel, that is also only a turn
or a lift or a lowering of the skull or
eyeball, a bending or a twist of the
spine, which creaks like a wicker
chair inside the centre of the earth—being
only a question of when and how
who or what has come to sit
or rearrange upon it—it of a certain
design. Or maybe a footstep or two, which
crackles like a Precambrian rain upon the
twisted wreckage of a spacecraft.

New vehicles and exploration by Matthew Bradley, 2011

The lookout
If I was on a sailing ship I would want to be the lookout. The top of the main mast, high above the bustle on the deck and the heaving ocean far below, up with the birds and the clouds and the wind in an eye of the sublime, that’s where I would want to be.

Early exploring
When I was a kid, when I wasn’t doing chores, I spent a lot of time exploring. It was mostly simple lay of the land stuff, where things were and how they fitted together. I spent a lot of time climbing. I climbed everything: trees, buildings, towers, all sorts of infrastructure. The aim was to get an overview, to see as far as I could see.

First vehicle
At age nine I cobbled together a bike. One day I rode out beyond the limits of the country town where I was living, to the top of the nearest large hill. It was the furthest I had ever ventured on my own and as I crossed the city limits I was aware of entering a different space, somewhere between the known and the unknown.

Followers of Pythagoras in 5BC develop an astronomical theory of a spherical Earth revolving on its own axis and moving in an orbit. They reasoned that in order to maintain the equilibrium of the sphere, there had to be land-masses in the Southern Hemisphere, which counterbalanced the known northern land-masses.

In the 2nd century AD the mathematician, philosopher and cartographer Ptolemy sought to survey the world 'in its just proportions' – that is, to scale. He developed a method of depicting the spherical earth on a flat surface. Ptolemy's maps, based on knowledge of the day, showed the known Roman world surrounded by oceans bounded by 'unknown lands'.

Australia on the map
This continent was first settled more than 50,000 years ago but the rest of the world has only been sure of its existence for 400 years. To everyone apart from the indigenous population, Terra Australis was just a legend. As early as the 5th century AD, before the shape, dimensions and exact position of this vast southern continent were known, a zone or sometimes an imaginary coastline began to appear on maps of the world. Early maps show a vast mega-continent, Terra Australis Incognita — an "unknown land of the South" stretching from the equator to the south pole.

Australia on the map 2
In March 1606, the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon aboard the Duyfken (Little Dove) made the first documented and undisputed European sighting of and landing on Australia. Records from this voyage include the first charts to record part of the actual Australian coastline. After this, Dutch navigators explored the continent extensively in the 17th century. As early as the mid-17th century roughly half of the continent was accurately charted and began appearing on maps of the world, often marked as "New Holland" on account of the voyages of these Dutch explorers.

Abel Tasman's voyage of 1642 was significant for being the first recorded European encounter with Tasmania and New Zealand and for proving on the way that Terra Australis was not connected to Antarctica. In 1644 Tasman returned to the continent and charted a vast stretch of the coastline from the top of Cape York Peninsula, across Arnhem land and down the west coast to Shark Bay.

Golden Seahorse
The first recorded European sighting of the coastline of my home state was made by the crew of the Gulden Zeepaert (Golden Seahorse) in 1627. Its Captain, François Thyssen, charted 1800 km of the southern coastline. The Seahorse sailed from the south-west tip of the continent deep into the Great Australian Bight, to a group of  islands just west of present day Ceduna that they called the Nuyts Archipelago.

The development of the great ocean-crossing ships in the age of sail accelerated and facilitated of one of the greatest projects of the ancient world: that of mapping all the lands on Earth. Significantly the process also brought great changes to the discovered lands as the sailing ships carried European settlers to many parts of the world in one of the most expansive human migrations in recorded history.

Earth from space
The desire to comprehend the world as a whole is fundamental and instinctual. The pursuit of an image of the whole world is a project that goes back to antiquity and the history of the map of the world is a record of changing perceptions of the planet on which we live. Early in 2012, the first ever continuous 24-hour streaming of a live image of the earth will commence. Cameras mounted on the international space station will film the earth and the images will be broadcast live, available to everyone, anytime to view online.

Matthew Bradley

The Good Son , project notes by Matthew Bradley

1948, at an annual hill climb in Hollister California, a gathering of Bikie gangs got out of hand and became a week of rampant partying and violent clashes, which terrorised and virtually destroyed the small mid-west town. A spokesperson for the motorcycle associations came out and said that it was only “one percent” of members who were responsible for this type of behaviour. After that some outlaw clubs took on this title as a badge of honour. Now, a distinctive 1%ers patch is worn on leathers by outlaw clubs all over the world.

During AFL matches commentators often call 1%ers. They are referring to individual acts of extra skill, commitment, effort or creativity that take the game to a new level. They are singular feats that can turn a game, that shape it and define it. they can’t be planned or practiced and you don’t see them in training. It’s a level of performance that only comes out in competition, and most of the time it will mean putting your body on the line. It’s the 1%ers that usually separate the teams on the day so if you win the 1%ers you usually win the game.

Maximum security at Glenside. On the day I arrived, escorted by police it took 5 orderlies to wrestle me into a padded cell. I don’t feel any different now to when I was in there. Pretty much out of control, a danger to myself and others and struggling to keep my criminal tendencies leashed. So go on provoke me. Once I lived with an old lady who went to church everyday. Sometimes she would be looking at me but speaking fiercely and a little fearfully to the devil. Sometimes an evil grin that does not quite feel my own haunts my face. I think of violent things all the time and sex and fucking heaps, and getting a gun an o what fun, and stealing cars, and burning cars. And breaking into all sorts of places and trashing stuff and smashing shit up, and come and try and stop me. I get angry, and I have done bad things, and I will do more, and I’m allowed to walk around.

The young David Hicks, now of Guantanamo prison, was expelled from school, smoked drugs and stole cars. He tattooed himself with a compass and pen ink, and put cigarettes out on his forearm. As a teenager, he believed he was possessed by an evil spirit and sought out an Anglican priest whom he asked to perform an exorcism. He also filled exercise books with fantasy stories, was a fast learner, read books voraciously, travelled widely and fathered a child. I know Smithfield Plains where he grew up. I’ll just say it’s a rough area. And I knew kids like him.

One night at Ben’s house, Animal, who has LOVE/HATE tattoo on his fists like Hicksy, drank Metho, blew it out of his nose and lit it up. His whole face caught on fire. Earlier we tied a video player to the clothesline, doused it with petrol and set it on fire because it had a copy of Pretty Woman inside it. And later after lots more alcohol and after Ben tried to crack on to Jodie and she turned him down. Ben, who’s old mans a cop, pulls this gun out and starts loading it and going off saying we were all fucken wankers and He’s gunna kill us all. And I really wasn’t sure that he wouldn’t. The best thing about hanging out was feeling that anything could happen, and that there are no limits, and that everything is always on the line. With this in mind we all instinctively knew that sometimes you must face a little social death if you wish to explore limitless potential.

There is the line and there is crossing the line. Then there is making your own path. Almost by definition the outlaw lives on a path that does not pre-exist. Therefore it must be created. Perhaps there is an inherent creativity in delinquent behaviour, which is at odds with its stereotype of being mindless, destructive and anti-social. Maybe there is a real social function. Maybe delinquent behaviour can be a way back to society. If ones usual patterns are criminal, limiting ones self to delinquent outbursts could be considered as a de-escalation of your criminal condition, and as a positive step toward society. So it could be possible to see someone throwing stones at signs as constructive, if they had a history of throwing rocks at moving cars. Doing a “piece” on a factory wall could be commended if previously it would have been burned to the ground. There is significant reform here.
As a kid, at The Boys Home in Wistow, I saw the Findon Skid Kids jump through the “Wall of Fire”. One of the things this club did was take delinquent street kids and teach them discipline and responsibility through the performance of death defying feats. Sort of saying, ok, how far do you want to go now that your body is on the line, finding their limits this way.
Sometimes reform happens as a gradual legitimisation of behaviour, by changing the context for it. Like, shifting the same set of skills from car jacking through the ranks of illegal street racing and into legitimate motor sports. Delinquent behaviour can be an important part of the process of finding a context for yourself in the landscape. It can be a way of testing your limits, finding out your skills and the right place for them.

History is full of delinquents, outlaws and villains. Perhaps what makes these characters compelling is an inherent creativity, at this unlikely site, which is for many the origin of a path toward redemption.

That is the path many will take, but in the end not all. In the end nothing will save The Good Son, and he doesn’t want to be saved. All that he was taught was bad and everyone he loved was bad. For him, being a Good Son means that he will always be an outlaw.

[essays should not be reproduced without permission from the authors]
Born, Australia
2016 Forest of Lightning, Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide
Destroyer of Worlds, GAGPROJECTS, Adelaide
2012 Space chickens help me make apple pie, Fontanelle Gallery, Adelaide
2011 New vehicles and exploration, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
2010 Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide
2008 Terminator, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
2007 Storm Machine, Gertrude Contemporary Art Space, Melbourne
Monster Bike, Downtown art space, Adelaide,

The Good Son, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra
Empire, screening room, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane


The Weet Bix Kid, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide

2004 Dark Crystal, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia
2003 I’ve Been Busy, Artspace, Adelaide festival centre, Adelaide
2001 Gold Card, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide
2017 The National 2017: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
2016 Dug and Digging With,Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide
2015 Climate Century, Vitalstatistix and Maritime Museum, Port Adelaide
Gratis, Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart
Spring 1883, Establishment Hotel, Sydney (GAGPROJECTS)
CACSA Contemporary 2015, SASA Gallery, Adelaide
2014 How does your garden grow?, Murray Bridge Regional Art Gallery, Murray Bridge
2013 Arte Magra, Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide
Felt Natural, FELTspace, Adelaide
Pigeon Auction, Casula Powerhouse, Sydney
Momentary, Adelade Film Festival, Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia
2012 End of the World, Fontanelle Gallery, Adelaide
Good mourning, FELTspace, Adelaide
This is what I do, CAST gallery, Tasmania
This is what I do, Metro Arts, Brisbane
2011 Labour of Love, Revisited – The Rise of Amateurism in the Age of Digital Networks, Arko Art Centre, Korea
Nothing like performance, Artspace, Sydney
2010 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of SA, Adelaide
2008 Contemporary Australia: Optimism, Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
The Flipside, The Substation, Singapore
Underbelly, Ryan Renshaw Gallery, Brisbane
World One Minute, Today Art Museum, Beijing
Uneasy: Recent South Australian Art, Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide
2007 Bad Brains, A Little Blah Blah, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The heavier we get, RAW Space, Brisbane
UFO, Penrith Regional Gallery, NSW
Late Nights, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide
Mentor Mentored 3, Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide
As it is - as it can be, Bus gallery, Melbourne
Taking the cure, Downtown art space, Adelaide
Things will be great, MOP, Sydney

New Australian Video Art, Museums Quartier, Vienna
Snapshot: Contemporary South Australian Art, Experimental ArtFoundation, Adelaide;
Touring regional South Australia in 2007, in association with Country Arts SA

2005 Risk, Kings ARI, Melbourne
New painting heroes, Downtown Art Space, Adelaide
Project for a revolution, Westspace, Melbourne

A wing and a prayer, Mildura Arts Centre, Victoria
Container project, Melbourne ARI festival, Federation Square, Melbourne

2003 Z, Roslyn Oxley, Sydney
2002 Die Cast, Physics room, Christchurch, New Zealand
2001 Other Worlds, Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide
2000 Internal, Supermild lounge, Adelaide
1999 Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Llewellyn, J. 'Matthew Bradley, Destroyer of Worlds', Art Guide, March-April 2016, p. 57
Llewellyn, J. '50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2016: #33 Matthew Bradley', Art Collector, no. 75, Jan-Mar 2016, p. 168-169
Bolton, K., 'Interstellar Pie', FORM GUIDE, Nov 2012, pp. 11-13
Darlaston, K. 'Poetry in the dark' Eyeline, 2011, no. 73
Blair, U., 'Seeing in the dark', Before and after science: 2010 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Pub. Art Gallery of South Australia, 2010
Chambers, N., 'Monster Bike', Contemporary Australia: Optimism, pub. Queensland Art Gallery, 2008
Walker, W., 'Uneasy on the eye', The Australian, July 3 2008
Morrell, T., Uneasy : Recent South Australian Art, pub. Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide, June 2008
Bolton, K., ‘Mentor Mentored 3’, exhibition catalogue, pub. CACSA, July 2007
Khan J., ‘Storm Machine’, exhibition catalogue, pub. Gertrude Contemporary Art Space, June 2007
Chapman, C., ‘Snapshot: Contemporary South Australian Art in Adelaide’, Art Monthly, Issue 194, Oct 2006
Bolton, K.. ‘Adelaide, Recent Art Recent History’, Broadsheet, vol.34 no.4, 2005
Woodburn, J., ‘Great Escape’, RealTime, no.61, 2004
Chambers, N., Z, Eyeline, no.51, 2003
Radok, S., ‘Avenge my death’, Adelaide Review, May 2002
Chapman, C., ‘Frequent Flyers’, Eyeline, no.46, 2001
‘Australia’s 50 Most Collectable Artists’, Australian Art Collector, January 2000