The Front

28 October - 15 November 2015
Main Gallery

A solo exhibition by 2014 Tierney Fellow Matt Kay

> View Exhibition Images

The KZNSA is pleased to announce 2014 Tierney Fellow Matt Kay and his thoughtprovoking body of work, The Front, opening in the Main Gallery later this month. The aim of the Tierney Fellowship at the Market Photo Workshop, in partnership with the Tierney Family Foundation, is to award an emerging photographer the opportunity to develop their career and skills through this mentorship programme, an ideal space for a photographer to develop a body of work. The Front is a body of work investigating the Durban beachfront as an ever-changing space and the people that frequent it.


Matt was mentored by Market Photo Workshop founder and renowned South African photographer David Goldblatt.


The promenade on Durban beachfront was constructed in anticipation of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.  Approximately 6.2 km long, the promenade stretches from uShaka Marine World until Blue Lagoon in the North. Durban’s beaches have undergone a rapid transformation in the past 20 years. Holidaymakers, locals, fisherman, surfers, runners and religious groups share the area. The promenade seems to have evolved into a truly shared space within South Africa. However, the nature of the beachfront shifts constantly, as the day progresses the flow of people constantly changes, and the function of the beach transforms.


The beachfront seems strangely impermanent, as if in a few years it will either be an arcade for tourists, or lost to the degradation and squalor that thrives just behind the promenade.  That or the ever-encroaching sea will take it. That said, at present it is a truly distinctive place in Durban, outside the determination of class, race or wealth restrictions, the beachfront is free to all who wish to use it. However, in this body of work, the artist seeks to challenge preconceived notions around Durban beachfront. What the beachfront represents shifts decidedly depending on expectations and memories. At first the promenade appears to be a truly integrated space, however looking deeper the lines of segregation are lingering just below the surface. This now shared space is a front. Nothing is what it appears. The history of Durban beachfront is an inescapable backdrop, a point of reference intrinsically located within the various bodies that now occupy the space.


The Front is an investigation, a revealing, of space. It documents the people who use the beachfront. It seeks to record the rapidly changing nature of the promenade by placing a marker as to what the space is now at this point in time. The Front confronts, diversity, identity, and multi-functionality of shared public space. Matt Kay says,  “this body of work was about looking harder at a space I thought I knew and understood. The harder I looked the more I realized that I understood very little about a place that clearly was significant to so many people in so many different ways. The beach has a strangeness to it that is constantly visible but only when looked for. This project finds relevance in that it is often the quiet and disconnected moments we see that stay with us and challenge our perspectives.” 


For Matt, photography is about searching for a way for him to make sense of the world and then express what is important to others. His process very much revolves around photographing instinctively and then really discovering the narrative through the editing process.


Matt describes the Tierney Fellowship experience, “As a photographer who normally works very much alone it was a big challenge to open up and allow others into the process of making this body of work. At times it made me feel vulnerable and at others great to know that there is real knowledge and experience guiding you in the right direction. The whole experience is very grounding and although sometimes confusing I feel it is a crucial part of moving forward in my career.”


About Matt Kay

Matt Kay was born in 1985 and completed the Intermediate Course and Advanced Photography Programme at the Market Photo Workshop. Matthew has received numerous awards and mentions that include: Winner of the 2011 CIT:Y award for photography, Finalist for the International Salzburg Summer Academy of Fine Arts (ISBK) residency, Finalist for the GUP/Viewbook International Small Stories Competition, Recipient of the Ithuba Arts Fund and Nominee for the 2014 Hel –Ved new Talent Award. Matt recently showcased his work Losing Ground during the inaugural Joburg Photo Umbrella.


Mentor’s Statement - DAVID GOLDBLATT

Matt Kay is doing strong photographs of life on Durban's beachfront. The work could become that elusive photographic 'thing', an essay, a group of related photographs that breathe and smell and tell of the photographer's understanding of what he has looked at. It is within reach. I look forward to seeing it realised.


About The Tierney Fellowship at the Market Photo Workshop

The Tierney Fellowship was created in 2003 by The Tierney Family Foundation to support emerging artists in the field of photography. The primary goal of the Fellowship is to find aspiring artists who will be tomorrow's leaders and to assist them in overcoming challenges that photographers face at the start of their careers.


Tracy Edser, the first recipient of The Tierney Fellowship at the Market Photo Workshop, exhibited her body of work in a solo exhibition, Amelioration. Mikhael Subotzky mentored Edser. Simangele Kalisa, the second recipient, exhibited her body of work at a Joint Tierney Exhibition at the Substation Gallery, Wits University, with fellows Monique Pelser and Ariane Questiaux. Jo Ractliffe mentored Kalisa. Thabiso Sekgala(1981-2014), the third recipient, exhibited a body of work entitled Homeland at The Photo Workshop Gallery in April 2011. Mikhael Subotzky also mentored Sekgala. Mack Magagane, the fourth recipient, exhibited his work called this city, a reflection of Johannesburg city by night. The exhibition opened in April 2013 at The Photo Workshop Gallery. Jo Ractliffe also mentored Mack Magagane. Lebohang Kganye, the fifth recipient, exhibited her work Ke lefa laka, a research into her family history using family photographs, testimonies from family members as well as personal narratives. Nontobeko Ntombela and Mary Sibande mentored Kganye. Sipho Gongxeka  The sixth recipient, Sipho Gongxeka, was mentored by the renowned South African photographer Pieter Hugo. Sipho’s exhibition, Skeem’ Saka, opened at The Photo Workshop Gallery in July 2014. Skeem’ Saka aims to create a dialogue with the audience on issues relating to masculinity; how men view themselves and the perception society has on the male figure.

Matt Kay is the seventh recipient of the Tierney Fellowship at the Market Photo Workshop.


Please see for more information.


About the Market Photo Workshop

For twenty-five years, the Market Photo Workshop has played a pivotal role in the training of South Africa’s photographers, ensuring that visual literacy reaches neglected and marginalized parts of our society. World-renowned photographer, David Goldblatt founded the Market Photo Workshop in 1989. Since then, the Photo Workshop has been an agent of change and representation, informing photographers, visual artists, educators, students and broader communities of trends, issues, and debates in photography and visual culture.


The Market Photo Workshop also runs a number of Public Programmes, which are a series of events involving and directed at professional photographers, visual artists, educators, students as well as the broader public. These Public Programmes seek to inform the trends, practices, methods, and contemporary ways of working and thinking in South African photography practice through exposure to a broad understanding of visual culture as well as a networking platform that encourages critical thinking and engagements.


Showcasing a number of high profile local and international photographers, as well as student and alumni photography work, the Market Photo Workshop has been able to build a strong and consistent audience base around our gallery, ‘The Photo Workshop Gallery’ in Newtown, which is on the same premises as the school. Since 2005, when the gallery was initially launched, the kind of platform it has engendered encourages not only emerging students to experience and enter into professional practice, but has distilled a new type of photographic practice amongst the greater artistic community. Various critical discourses, especially around the role documentary photography, have been stimulated by the multitude of exhibitions that have shown at The Photo Workshop Gallery creating dynamic interactions between students and the greater photography community.



For more information please visit


Or contact:

Bekie Ntini

Coordinator: Mentorships and Training

Bianca Mońa

Manager: Public Programmes and Development


+27 (0) 11 834 1444 T or