Matthew Willman is a Durban based documentary photographer, author and speaker. Willman has emerged as one of South Africa’s leading, young, independent artists. He has expressed himself through an extraordinary body of work which has included writing, storytelling and photographic exhibitions.

Willman has gained over 20 years’ experience working for some of the world’s foremost institutions in the field of visual communication, development, visual arts and leadership. A true global citizen, Willman has worked in 42 countries tailoring his inventive brand of communication to the needs of an array of clients which have included: Oxfam International, The World Health Organisation, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, The Vodacom Foundation, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Robben Island Museum and The European Commission.

Willman has had the pleasure of being commissioned to photograph individuals from a cross-section of the global community. Commissions include: US Presidents Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President FW De Klerk, Annie Lennox, 12 Presidents, 8 Nobel Laureates and a host of sports personalities, musicians, politicians and philanthropists.

Perhaps one of Willman’s greatest achievements was his significant contribution to the recording of the process of South Africa’s democratic change. This occurred both in his work as a commissioned photographer to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and through ten years of work with Mr Mandela himself.  In 2003 Matthew was commissioned to archive and document the life and times of Nelson Mandela. Over the years this afforded him many incredibly intimate experiences with a man who for Willman embodies the very spirit and conviction we all possess as South Africans. His work with Mr Mandela features prominently in 5 best-selling books. His collection of work is now central to the Mandela Centre of Memory & Presidential Library in Johannesburg.

‘The Matthew Willman Arts Trust’, founded in 2011, is a charitable organisation committed to making a difference to individuals and communities through tertiary level educational scholarships and financial grants to young up and coming artists.


A Selection of Galleries & Exhibitions which have featured Willman’s work:

  • The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Cincinnati, Ohio, USA 
  • The Bill Clinton Presidential Library – Little Rock, Arkansas USA
  • The Vlinderpaleis, Antwerp Belgium
  • Bonhams SA Art Exhibition & Auction – London, UK
  • Art in the Yard – Franschhoek, South Africa
  • Areteos Gallery, Central, Hong Kong
  • World Human Rights Day – South African High Commission, London, UK
  • Oxfam International – Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Australia
  • Robben Island Collection – Cardiff, Wales
  • The SA Jewish Museum – Cape Town, South Africa
  • The Everard Read Gallery – Rosebank, Johannesburg
  • The Thon Dittmar Palais – Regensburg, Germany 
  • The South African Embassy – Berlin, Germany
  • DEG Bank – Cologne, Germany
  • World Congress on HIV & Aids – Mexico City, Mexico
  • CHIVA Africa Exhibition – Pall Mall, London, UK
  • The Gallery – Rosebank, South Africa
  • ‘Prisoner in the Garden’ – The Nelson Mandela Foundation – Houghton, South Africa
  • ‘Dreams for Africa’ Chair – Durban Art Gallery – Durban, South Africa
  • Vukukhanye: Rising Up – Tromso, Norway