‘Non-Conformist’ Exhibition Guest Curated by Senior Lecturer Matthew Murray 1st September – 30th November 2020 – ElliottHalls Gallery, Amsterdam

I was invited to curate ElliottHalls Gallery first Digital Online Exhibition, this first curated exhibition will be part of a larger online programme. I wanted to curate an exhibition by choosing work that wasn’t seen as much as some of the artists’ better known photographs. I was really happy to be able to include an image from recent graduate Ellie Ramsden, whose Grime scene work fit the theme of the non-conformist perfectly.

Addie Elliott and Liz Halls, Directors at ElliottHalls Gallery, explain about the curation ‘Each show will be Guest Curated by an ElliottHalls Gallery Artist/Photographer and the programme is kicked off with the exhibition ‘Non-Conformist’ curated by British Photographer Matthew Murray.’

In curating this exhibition I have tried to include a cross section of artists’, photographers, subjects, methodologies that didn’t or don’t conform. Below are my thoughts about the selection of work I have chosen and my reasons for my choice of the theme ‘non-conformist’

Malcolm X, speaks in Notting Hill, London, 1964, John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins

As a child growing up on a council estate in the industrial Midlands and going to an inner-city boys’ school, nonconformity or rather conformity was rammed down our throats by stiff suited teachers smelling of tobacco and chalk. Non-conformity was the naughty kid at the back of the class, back chatting, boisterous behaviour, double detention, on report and then expelled.  There was a feeling of intrigue and admiration for these non-conformists, while they were frowned upon tutted at and judged for their need to cause anarchy.

Growing up and gaining an insight into the wider cultural landscape outside of the boys’ toilets and the football terraces, I began to realise non-conformity was everything I had always thought it was brilliant, progressive, inspiring, exciting and experimental.

Non-conformity is weaved throughout consciousness, politics, our thinking, our icons, our music, our sport, our beliefs and our desires. The non-conformist is always seen as the outsider, the fly in the ointment, the troublemaker, the divider. But truth be told the non-conformist is inspirational, the game changer, the leader and the progressive thinker.

Ellie Ramsden

The brilliance about the non-conformist is that their ideas won’t always be non-conforming. Time changes ideas and mind sets and where once these ideas may have been shocking, hated and deemed disgusting or unacceptable. Now they may be considered the norm, but the ‘new norm.’

But the beauty of the, ‘new norm,’ is that it’s organic, ever changing and progressive and with it comes the next generation non-conformists, we love to hate and then learn to love!

You can read Matthew’s text that accompanies each photograph chosen by clicking the Non-Conformist Exhibition link and then by clicking on each of the photographs in the show.

ElliottHalls Website

ElliottHalls Instagram


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