We caught up with the Doomed Gallery founder Ken Flaherty and his business partner and co-curator Matt Martin. We wanted to ask them a bit about age, life and how it is to work together, despite their 31 year and a generation's worth of age difference.
If you haven't been to their gallery yet, we recommend you check out what's on, right in the heart of Dalston's Ridley Road market at 65 Ridley Rd, London E8 2NP
Can you tell us who you are, what you do, why you work together?
I am Ken Flaherty, founder and janitor of Doomed Gallery and just to be clear, I am a non-practising artist. Matt and I work together because we have a mutual punk ethos and our skills and vision compliment each other.
I am Matt Martin, Curator, Photographer and zine publisher. I curate at Doomed Gallery, alongside Ken, who's the lead curator. I have been working in galleries and DIY spaces since my teens. When the chance came up to join Doomed I couldn’t wait, as it was the perfect gallery with DIY roots. Ken and me work together to keep Doomed, and the DIY scene, alive. We give a voice and a platform to those that need it within photography and lens based media.
Do you think how old you are, is relevant to how you think about yourself? Why?
Ken: Yes, it’s really important to stay as immature as possible. It stops ageing and keeps you engaged and active. I think it is important to be open and not be critical of anything new. If you think in terms of hip-hop, punk and DIY culture and how these genres influence generations and culture; we need these iconoclasts and movements to enrich our thinking and ways of being.
Matt: I guess in some ways. I grew up skateboarding and in punk bands, so youth and alternative culture has always been part of my life. That has moved into my work as a photographer and curator. Documenting the world I live in, friends, bands, the weird, and the beautiful. I will always be interested in documenting DIY culture via photography, zines and exhibitions.
Do you think how old you are, changes people think about you? Do you think there is a difference between people who know you and people who you have just met?
Ken: People judge you on the way you want to be judged. Best thing is to have a thick skin and don’t give a fuck and never judge a book by its cover.
Matt: I look quite young for my age, so I guess when people find out I’m 29 they are sometimes surprised by this. I don’t know, I guess even though you get older in your mind you are always a young teen. I still feel like I’m 18 most of the time, but I have a lot of close friends who work in the same industry and we are all just growing up together and now my peers are the people who are running the things that I looked up to in my teens.
"I feel that age doesn’t really come in to my thought. My dad is 70 now and when I was younger I thought that 70 was basically dead. But he still rides a motorbike and plays tennis and is really active and does not seem 70. Ken is in his 60’s and does more things in a day than I do in a week."
Matt Martin, Doomed Gallery.
Do you like spending time with people of other ages? What do you gain?
Ken: I am very much into intergenerational collaboration – especially if I have the ideas and they work. It’s about cooperation and creating the right energy.
Matt: Yeah it’s great. Growing up, a lot of my mates where older than me. I was 20 and the guys I used to do graffiti with where all in their mid 30’s. But, then I was also in bands with guys that where 5 years younger, so I had a real mix. Most of my professional life, I have worked with or for older people – I seem to get on with them better sometimes.
What do you think are the biggest challenges we face across all ages?
Ken: Opportunities – I think you have to create your own opportunities, now more than ever. Technology has made it possible for everyone to express himself or herself you can make a film on a phone and edit with free software. It’s no long cost prohibitive to be creative. The real challenge is not to let technology own us, as it consumes us daily and we can become addicted with our entire lives being mediated, through the screen.
Matt: I feel that age doesn’t really come into my thoughts. My dad is 70 now and when I was younger, I thought that 70 was basically dead. But, he still rides a motorbike, plays tennis and is really active and does not seem 70. Ken is in his 60’s and does more things in a day than I do in a week!
What do you think the benefit is of people of different ages spending time together?
Ken: Having different perspectives is always advantageous to any creative endeavor; also experience and expertise have a big part to play.
Matt You get to hear great stories about life in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and we get to show them how to use social media and teach them that words like “sick” and “bad” actually mean good things!
"All too often it’s young people struggling to get in and the older generation being eased out. In an ideal world, we would all work together; Matt and I are bringing this ideal a little bit closer."
Ken Flaherty, Doomed Gallery.
What can you learn from people who are older?
Ken: Don’t make yourself invisible! Mental attitude is what keeps you young. Don’t get an annual membership for the RA.
Matt :Things that don’t involve computers.
What can you learn from people who are younger?
Ken: That the past wasn’t that long ago and the future does not exist.
Matt: Things that do involve computers.
What do you think is the benefit of a society where our age does not define us?
Ken: It would be good to see society working on this level. All too often, it’s young people struggling to get in and the older generation being eased out. In an ideal world, we would all work together; Matt and I are bringing this ideal a little bit closer. “There is one common struggle against those who have appropriated the earth, the money, and the machines“. Voltairine de Cleyre.”
Matt : There are pros and cons. I don’t think that our government should be made up of old people, who have no connection with the young. We are going to be the ones that have to clean up the mess they leave us in. More should be done so that younger people have more of a voice in politics, as we are the ones that will have to deal with it. But, we can learn so much from what has been done before us, good and bad and we need older people to show us this and give us direction.
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