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February 7, 2013

Meet the artists: Matthew Price

Originally from Cadbury Heath and now a resident of Cliftonwood, Matthew Price has always lived near or in Bristol. His perfect day in Bristol consists of walking around taking photographs and ending up sitting outside the Arnolfini drinking cider with friends – in the summer, of course. At the moment he’s working in admin, but he studied ceramics at Bower Ashton and is a keen photographer, and despite working fulltime for the last ten years, he considers himself an artist at heart. I met up with him at The Grain Barge, a boat in Hotwells owned by Bristol Beer Factory, who accept the Bristol Pound.

Matthew is obsessed with the history of Bristol, and he hosts historic walks of Bristol for members of the LGBT community and more recently of the deaf community. I asked him to tell me about some of his favourite bits of Bristol history. I learned some fun facts about Bristol, for example that wheeled carriages were not allowed in the medieval city centre because of the wine cellars that used to sit underneath the streets. Instead, sleighs were used for transportation which polished the cobbled streets. Most interesting, however, are the stories of Matthew’s grandparents who lived in Bristol during the blitz in the second world war, which evoke images of blown-up buses and burnt christmas cards floating in the air.From those of his family to those of the city more generally, the stories of Bristol are one of Matthew’s great passions, and eventually he hopes to write a book on the topic.

Matthew found out about the competition to design Bristol Pound notes through the BBC website. At the time he had been entering photo competitions for the Guardian Camera Club, so he decided to enter this one too. Why not? Originally, he was going to submit a photograph for the “Our Environment” category. However then Matthew decided to put together a design without using photography. He thought about the images of Bristol that he recalled popping into his head when living away from the city. Such places as the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Harbourside in the sunshines as well as the coloured houses on the hills of Totterdown and Cliftonwood. He decided to create a design using the colourful terraces reflecting Bristol’s diverse communities living alongside each other. To symbolise this Matthew chose to decorate his houses with flags made out of coloured tissue paper. The flags of represent nationalities of people Matthew has known, which paints a snapshot of the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of Bristol. He wanted his design to scream “Bristol” and convey a positive message, and the flag-covered houses do just that.

Eventually Matthew hopes to live off his art, and in the mean time his experience with the Bristol pound has given him the confidence to return to this pursuit seriously. Since having his work on the £B10 note he has gone back to his art, experimenting with painting and continuing with his photography. He has hired a studio in Hamilton House, where he is now known as “the Bristol Pound person”, which is hopefully the start of a new stage in his artistic career. Soon you’ll be able to find out more about Matthew’s work in his website: www.matthewpriceartist.com

Written by Laura Márquez Perez

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