Michele Mathison was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised between Harare and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. At present, he lives and works between Zimbabwe and South Africa, practising as a sculptor.
He completed a Bachelors of Fine Arts at Michaelis School of Fine Arts, University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa in 2000. Having grown up in Zimbabwe, Mathison draws inspiration from ordinary objects associated with southern African life, converting them into his sculptural pieces. He often works with ceramic, resin and steel as well as various found objects which he reconstructs to highlight their multi-faceted symbolic values, uses and qualities.
Addressing the often harsh, tragic, dynamic and enriching experience of life in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and their neighbouring countries, Mathison focuses on the importance of agriculture within rural and urban life.
He often uses farming tools such as hoes, spades and picking axes in his sculptural works, to explore their power and historic influences. In an interview with Between10and5, Mathison states the following, “I find that I am attracted to artisanal trades. I find beauty in craftsmanship and construction in occupations such as carpentry, metalwork and construction. I respect the precision and skill of the people who design and manufacture the world around us. This plays a major role on my work because I am seduced by the form and function of the objects I use.”
Finding inspiration in markets, hardware stores and roadsides, Mathison’s interests extend to source from pockets of lived experience, as found in the spaces in which people work, eat and socialise, as he continues to proclaim in the interview, “Where there is life.”
Notable solo exhibitions include: EXIT/EXILE at Nirox Projects (Johannesburg: 2011); Manual at WHATIFTHEWORLD (Cape Town, South Africa: 2014); Harvest at the Zeitz MOCAA Scheryn Pavilion (Cape Town: 2015) and Uproot at Tyburn Gallery (London, United Kingdom: 2016). His work featured in the following group shows: Dudziro, Zimbabwe Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy: 2013); Public Sculpture at Arts on Main (Johannesburg, South Africa: 2014); Broken English at Tyburn Gallery (London, United Kingdom: 2015) and Negative Space at WHATIFTHEWORLD (Cape Town: 2016).