The Story of Matt Zi, artist and adventurer

I’ve had just about enough of boring About pages. Let’s have an interesting one this time shall we?

(If you’d rather have the short and boring one… click here)

Read the following in a slow, dramatic voice for best effect…

I was born on a wild, snow-stormy night in a little known English town, ironically at the very same moment when someone, somewhere was listening to Queen’s latest hit, “Another One Bites the Dust.”

The cold, grey gloom of the British Isles proved too much for my parents. They soon fled to a land which was sunny and tropical but warped by very strange laws: South Africa.

Upon my arrival

The immigration officials clearly recognized me as something too foreign and alien for their sacred homeland and refused to let me in.

Only after hours of pleading and begging did they finally give in to my mother’s desperate wishes to allow me to stay.

Thus began my journey…

With these fateful first breaths

It only made sense to choose a weapon capable of overcoming such adversity. Perhaps drawing on my mother’s extraordinary talents as a watercolor artist, or maybe something deeper, I chose art.

Fueled by a sense of not quiet belonging in this world I steered myself towards living a more imaginative and fantastic life than others around me seemed to understand…

⏩ Fast Forward a few years...

Doesn’t seem too bad right? It really wasn’t.

Until I hit... the WALL

As a kid growing up, a rare ability to create and communicate was looked upon as a blessing. Children can play, children can make believe. But before long I was no longer a child.

Suddenly struck with the real world in a way I could no longer escape from I was faced with the rather unexciting prospect of needing to survive on my own. Nobody seemed to care about the starry eyed kid who could sculpt and paint in a commercialized world driven by production and profit.

And I was about as far from understanding the first thing about marketing and promoting myself as an artist as I could possibly have been.

I first escaped into travel.

With South Africa’s leadership in an unstable transitional phase, the exchange rate was great to make money overseas. So I headed off to Europe and America to explore, snowboard, and well, escape. I didn’t really make any money but I did win this snow sculpture competition.

Then dived deep into religion.

For 10 years I worked for a church in the service of others.

It wasn’t always easy, but despite pressures from many sides to quit “this crazy lifestyle” I finally experienced a much needed period of growth and a realization that opened the door to me expressing my art and creativity more fully…


In helping others with their life problems daily I became more perceptive of other people. This may sound weird or crazy, but to someone who’d been living in a kind of fantasy land for most of his life other people had become kind of not-quite-there. I mean they were there, they just weren’t that real. Like when you go to a foreign country and everyone speaks with a language you don’t get.

At last I had found the new world of other people.

A battle with the balance

of staying present in this world while still being engaged in my dreams is always there, but I’ve finally come to understand that if I look at this ability as a gift I can share, it transforms from a weakness to a strength.

For the first time now in a long time I feel ready to create freely again, and to do it in a way that others around me can appreciate and understand.

Thanks for reading my story. I hope you feel you know me a little better now.

I now invite you to…

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