Matthew Miller's 13 Apostles

Anarchism meets a funeral parlour in the politically-charged designer's new photo series, in collaboration with Studio Baron

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Matthew Miller – The 13 Apostles
Matthew Miller – The 13 Apostles Photography and styling by Studio Baron

“Every collection is always based on words”, revealed Matthew Miller to Dazed Digital when we visited his studio last year before the launch of his SS14 line. The 13 Apostles, a new photo series opening tonight at Soho’s OTHER/shop, further demonstrates the place of the typographic in Miller's work, and serves as a continuation of the theme of his AW14 collection, “emotional anarchy”. In the series – created in collaboration with London-based provocateurs Studio Baron, aka Jonathan Baron and Matthew Holroyd – sombre-visaged models are pictured holding funeral flowers that spell out Miller’s name. Despite his belief that ultimately, “they are just fucking clothes”, Miller’s work is “massively political and philosophical”, with the images of this series gesturing to notions of sentimentality, death, and even the iconography of the IRA. We talked to him about tombstones, sex shops and the inspiration behind the exhibition.

Each of the 13 models are holding funeral flowers that spell out your name, what would like to be written on your own tombstone?

Matthew Miller: A few people thought that the idea was quite dark to be honest. I personally think sentiment is wasted on me, and wouldn't want to waste someone else's life reading about mine. I'd just like one of Marianne Vitale’s wooden tombstones – I saw them in a recent exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. That or else a beautiful piece of raw cut granite by Martin Creed. The material can do all the talking. 

On your deathbed, what would you choose as the last work of art to ever lay your eyes on? 

Matthew Miller: To choose one would take a lifetime in itself. Can I be wheeled around the Tate Modern? I'll drop them an email now and see what their policies are in regards to death, deathbeds and the viewing of exhibitions. 

Favourite Soho sex shop? 

Matthew Miller: Soho Books? Does that count? I've loved that store since coming to London as a 19-year-old student, on day release from Stoke-on-Trent. It has an incredible mix of books exploring sex, art and the silver screen. What more could you want? 

“Can I be wheeled around the Tate Modern? I'll drop them an email and see what their policies are in regards to death, deathbeds and the viewing of exhibitions”

Voyeur or exhibitionist? 

Matthew Miller: Voyeur for sure. I find other people far more interesting than myself. 

What's the collaborative process like between yourself, Jonathan and Matthew? How did this project develop together and what were some of the reference images you explored? 

Matthew Miller: The Baron and I first met about 12 months ago over social media. We talked a lot about work and references. We’ve gone on to work on a few projects together and in my opinion, each time they get better and better. For AW14 the collection was based around emotional anarchy, so for the shoot we decided to look at historical portraits of anarchists/freedom fighters. Me and The Baron looked heavily at IRA portraits, and noticed that if you took away the balaclavas, the way the subjects were shot was not dissimilar to the portraiture of the reigning political party at the time. So we decided to create an anarchists’ political party conference for the shoot. The Baron shot everything entirely on film to get the best quality images, and Matthew Holroyd styled it. They're a team I really enjoy working with. 

To mark the occasion, Miller has also designed six limited edition sweatshirts to be sold exclusively online at Other-Shop.comThe 13 Apostles is on show throughout June to coincide with London Collections: Men.

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