Two young women sit alone on either side of a cafe, engrossed in their phones. On the window outside, the reflected lights of the city create an aura of connectivity between these two solitary figures.

Southern Lights, Shinjinku Southern Terrace is one of four photographs by Australian photographer Matthew Sleeth and generously donated to the UTS Art Collection courtesy of collector and benefactor Patrick Corrigan, AM.

Sleeth’s photographs are seductively beautiful and disarmingly immediate, like snapshots taken on a trip abroad. And yet there is something else at play here, the reflexive eye of the artist.

“I want  my photography to depart from the  traditions  of orthodox documentary,” Sleeth  explained at a recent exhibition of his work.  ”I want  to engage with my times  – to make pictures that  grapple with social  and political  ideas,” says Sleeth.

His works have been a familiar sight on the walls of UTS in recent years, with several works on loan from the Corrigan Collection documenting the artist’s travels in Japan, Switzerland, East Timor and closer to home in Melbourne. Each series reveals more of Sleeth’s preoccupations with light and shade, tourism and urbanization.


Janet Ollevou
Assistant Curator (Collection)



This article first appeared in U Magazine, April 2012

Matthew Sleeth

  • Southern Lights, Shinjinku Southern Terrace (Tokyo) 2006
  • C Type photograph
  • 123 x 148
    • UTS Art Collection, gift of Patrick Corrigan AM through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2011
    • Accession number: UTS 2011.009