RedEye Talk - Chloe Dewe Mathews.
Updated: Jun 23, 2020
On the 12th March I was lucky enough to attend a talk by documentary photography Chloe Dewe Mathews at Manchester University, UK arranged by RedEye. This talk had an admission fee for none RedEye members of £8. I decided to attend the evening talk in Manchester with a fellow peer Rachael Zorniak.
We both found Dewe Mathews and her professional workflow of great interest due to the vast range of subject matters she documents throughout her many critically acclaimed projects. Such as- Shot at Dawn (2014), Caspian: the Elements (2017) and In Search of Frankenstein (2018). All of which were shot as long term projects where Mathews fully immersed herself into the projects. Eating, sleeping and breathing each project.
The first project discussed by Mathews during her talk was Caspian: the Elements. In 2010 Mathews made a trip travelling from China to the United Kingdom. Once arriving on the shores of the Caspian Sea, she began documenting everything and anything she found of personal interest. As she returned to the region repeatedly for the following five years, she searched out stories and individuals that raised questions about the human relationship with natural resources in the much-coveted geographic location (coal, crude oil, mineral rich seabeds etc).
"Away from the wranglings of geopolitics, Dewe Mathews found that materials like oil, fire, uranium, and water are integral to the mystical, economic, artistic, religious, and therapeutic aspects of daily life. Caspian: The Elements offers a series of powerful visual narratives, a portrait of this beguiling and elusive land". - Chloe Dewe Mathews, 2018.
The next project discussed by Mathews was In Search of Frankenstein which began on a residency trip by photographing the snow covered alpine landscapes of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. Mathews later went on to discover this was the location in-which Mary Shelley wrote a manuscript in 1816 during a miserably long and wet summer vacation where an 18-year-old Mary Shelley and her companions were tasked to write ghost stories to pass the time. The resulting Shelly manuscript produced during this time would be the beginnings of the novel which would later go on to be known as Frankenstein's Monster. With Shelley using the setting off Lake Geneva multiple times throughout the novels pages.
While on residency Mathews read Shelley's chilling ghost story and used the pages of the novel as a map, trying to track-down specific locations used as backdrops form the novels narrative and documenting them as accurately as she could. The final collection of images was a visual juxtaposition between the picturesque Lake Geneva landscapes and eerie manmade nuclear bunkers. Constructed in the 1960's and large enough to house the entire population of Switzerland in-case of a nuclear disaster. The bunkers acting as a visual representation of Shelley's depiction in the pages of Frankenstein's Monster, that it is actually man that was and still are the true monsters of the story. Frankenstein made the monster and man made the bunkers in preparation for our own inventible undoing.
The final project Mathews shared during the talk was Shot at Dawn, which focuses on the sites at which British, French and Belgian troops were executed for cowardice and desertion between 1914 and 1918 during World War 1.
"The series comprises twenty-three photographs, each depicting a location at which the soldiers were shot or held in the period leading up to their execution. All are seasonally accurate and were taken as close as possible to the precise time of day at which the executions occurred". - Chloe Dewe Mathews, 2014.
Chloe Dewe Mathews Webside - www.chloedewemathews.com
Chloe Dewe Mathews Instagram - @chloedewemathews
RedEye Website - www.redeye.org.uk
RedEye Instagram - @redeyetpn