“I’m shopping with my boyfriend. We’ve just finished work at a call centre.”
“I look like a bag lady… I am a bag lady!”
“We are on a day out shopping and taking our niece out in her wheelchair for the first time”
For Shoppers, London-based photographer Matthew Murray constructed a temporary studio within Bristol’s Galleries Shopping Mall, inviting its most intriguing characters to sit for brief portrait sessions. Murray is drawn to the nuances of consumerism, and for each of his subjects, he requested a brief explanation for their trip to the mall, uncovering moments of unexpected variety within a setting of the everyday.
The Galleries Shopping Mall, Murray explains, was constructed some twenty years ago and is home to more discount stores than the regular selection of chain outlets. For this reason, the complex attracts shoppers of diverse backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles, an aspect that convinced the photographer to set his work within its walls. He asked for and was granted permission to erect the mobile studio within the space of an empty shop and soon began approaching groups and individuals as they went about their routine.
Shoppers is situated firmly within the modern era, constructing a portrait of capitalist culture that is both challenging and sympathetic. In today’s world, he explains, most purchases are no longer made for the basic purpose of survival, and yet the impulse to accrue possessions persists. Some of his subjects enter the mall in hopes of finding a specific something, an object indispensable to their daily goings on. For others, Galleries offers a temporary diversion, becoming a destination within itself, awaiting aimless but satisfying- and sometimes meaningful- exploration.
“Last minute shopping. I’m off to LA tomorrow to meet up with friends and have my stomach tattooed.”
“I am in town shopping today as a birthday treat. I am 54 today.”
“I am shopping with my son and his nan, not for anything in particular, just a day out really.”
“I have a Subway every Saturday. It’s good for me. Then I go upstairs and have a cake at Gregg’s.”
“Shopping mainly for toys. We shop here because it’s the closest shopping centre to home.”
“I find shopping so boring. I’m here with my girlfriend. She shops, I text…”
“We’re shopping for anything to do with One Direction… Love Harry… No, Zayn… No, Niall… ALL OF THEM!”
“We’re just passing time, window shopping. It’s a good break from a week at work.”
“I’m out shopping, chilling with my wife… where is she? Turn my head for a minute, and she’s disappeared into another store!”
All images © Matthew Murray