‘I’M really inspired and moved by a handful of artists making beautiful bold work, capturing their identities, their chosen families. D’Angelo Williams, Adama Jalloh, Clifford Prince King.”

The subject of a new exhibition of work entitled Soon Come at the Dundee ­Contemporary Arts centre, I’m asking artist Matthew Arthur Williams about the individuals who drive him on.

“There are also artists who are ­juggling multiple themes in their work, who look at a narrative and say ‘I’ll raise you’ by moving it outside of the standard ­framework”, he says. “Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Babette Mangolte, Rehana Zaman, and Ingrid Pollard do all of that so well.”

Born in South London in 1989, and now based in Glasgow, Williams uses photography, film, and sound to ask ­questions about what it means to be Black and queer in contemporary ­environments, rural locations included.

“My pieces are mainly about ­presenting an identity, no matter how nuanced. I am, without a doubt, already confronting a narrative that isn’t quite right,” he says. “Immediately, there are ideas around ownership and land. Even in a cityscape, this can often be the situation.”

Sometimes, Williams uses his own body to present himself as a Black man in the landscape, inviting viewers to ­confront their expectations of both who belongs in the countryside, and who that ­countryside belongs to. The results are deeply ­affecting.

“For me,” Williams says, “there’s ­always a desire for that thing you can see but you can’t quite access”.

What’s also notable is Williams’ ­frustration at the lack of broad societal representation in traditional archives. His artwork sets out to change that, ­filling the gaps with records of the hard work of people who are determined to make a difference, as well as ­documenting his own processes and position in the world.

“In these grassroots or low-level ­areas, organising workload can result in ­burnout in individuals due to systemic challenges. I’ve tried to document and create portraits in these spaces and times as a record, because the archive really misses out on these crucial individuals that can keep a place interesting and ­bustling to an outsider.

“I think a lot about incredible artists and art that was birthed out of DIY punk spaces, night venues, and scenes.”

Williams’s mother and father are from the Jamaican parishes of ­Clarendon and St Catherine. Upon arriving in the UK in the early 1960s, they ­settled with his grandparents who were ­already ­established in Stoke-on-Trent. ­Unsurprisingly, the sense of place as an additional subject for interrogation sits within Williams’s practice. What is home, Matthew? And how do you define it?

“Home is not a simple answer for ­anyone, and it most certainly isn’t for me,” he says. “There’s a privilege if you can summarise home fairly quickly.”

Alongside a film and sound ­installation, the Soon Come exhibition includes ­photographic pieces, all of which have been developed from new conversations and interviews, and existing archive material. Williams’ photographs are ­developed in grainy black and white, and his moving images are shot using 16mm stock. The results are unadorned and gnomic; ambiguous but with an implied gravity that brings to mind the gallery images made by artist and film director Steve McQueen.

An accompanying book adds ­extra context to the artwork, containing texts commissioned specifically for the ­project from historian and ethnographer Nydia Swaby, and scholar and poet ­Gabriella Gaye.

Williams’ art-making processes are stubbornly analogue, so what is his ­relationship with the digital world as an artist?

“We are constantly in a losing game with the digital world where we are ­trying to keep pace with it,” he says. “It’s apparent that it’s too fast for us.

“I became starkly aware that, as we moved away from innocent, or perhaps naive, forms of sharing photography or filmmaking socially, we have now arrived at a place where we often see work being made for content, not intent.”

Credit for using legacy ­technology goes, in part, to the practitioners ­Williams met during the time he spent studying ­photography at the Manchester ­Metropolitan University in 2012.

“In one way, I suppose I do use ­analogue apparatuses as a mode of ­refusal, but that’s also what I was taught on,” he says. “My tutors weren’t archaic figures, but they were really crucial to my understanding of these analogue forms and their power still today.”

Williams mentions other creatives that help inform his ideas. The British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah, whose work investigates post­-colonialism and migration. American writer ­Ursula K Le Guin’s tales of alternative ­anthropological fantasy. Joni Mitchell’s music.

The alien, proto-Afrofuturist worlds of author ­Samuel R Delany, who noted in his essay, Racism And ­Science Fiction, that his identity as a Black man would always affect what his white ­contemporaries thought of him and his writing, no matter what.

And then there’s the late, ­award-winning Black director and ­activist, Marlon Riggs. Riggs was a ­pioneer in creating ­multi-dimensional documentaries about Black and queer communities in 1990s American society, using performance and music alongside film to confront ­racial and homophobic prejudices.

How have Williams’s own experiences as a Black gay man shaped his artistic practice?

“The people I surround myself with and work with, in and outside of art, ­continuously shape me as an individual. I’ve been – quote, unquote – out since I was 20, and have been very much affiliated with ­LGBTQ+ spaces in every city I’ve ­resided in.

“I also work as a DJ, and I’m ­constantly surrounded by people who work to ­facilitate spaces and parties in DIY ­spaces or established venues.”

And what about the exhibition’s ­title? Is it fair to say that Soon Come is a phrase that suggests that something will happen, sooner or later, and we’re not sure when?

“The funny thing about the phrase is that, for those within the framework of a Caribbean perspective, it can mean everything and nothing all at once,” Williams says. “It holds on to so much promise but not quite telling you when, or where.”

Matthew Arthur Williams’s Soon Come exhibition is currently on show at the Dundee Contemporary Arts centre and will run until March 26, 2023. Entry is free.