National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne until 7 October 2018 ‘The…
Quiet time: Above Savage River & Selected Photographs – is a solo exhibition by Elwood based photographic artist, Mat Hughes. The exhibition explores the theme of; space & time for personal reflection and features twenty photographic works made over the last four years.
The work on display includes images made using traditional photographic techniques, through to digital hybrids that use a combination of analogue and digital process.
The series ‘Above Savage River’ originates from a set of black & white pinhole camera images made during a trip to the Tarkine, Tasmania in 2016 and include diary entries annotated directly onto the print describing the conditions under which the photographs were made.
There is a strong compositional aesthetic flowing through the exhibition which evokes a sense of calm and balance. Mat Hughes’ work references classic theme`s such as strength, resilience, fragility & memory.
As well as offering a very personal insight into the artist, these photographs remind us that beauty and mystery is there to be found, often away from the granular sharpness of today`s images, if we only take the time to look for it.
‘In the spring of 2016 I visited the Tarkine in Tasmania’s north-west an area known for its pristine, untouched natural beauty. I had been reading about Van Diemen’s Land and its colonial history and wanted to slow my image making down, in order to reflect on the past and connect with the landscape.
Transport to the penal colonies in the 1800`s was considered a sentence to the ‘very ends of the earth’ from which there was little chance of survival, let alone return to European civilization.
I was fascinated by early accounts from seafarer’s and mariners who described the island’s interior as ‘impenetrable forest’. This described another frontier, a boundary between the barely known and the totally unknown. For many years the principle means of travel was by ship around the edge of the island.
With the brutal conditions in the penal colonies there was little for a convict to lose when considering escape and there was nowhere to go other than to the island’s interior. It is impossible to grasp how these convict/explorers felt as they made their escape with little or no equipment.
I daydream as I walk. I try to see through their eyes. I move over the same untouched land but am insulated in a different experience. I wear thermal clothes, waterproof boots and carry a water bottle and a sandwich.
Were they alive today, the stories these convict/explorers could tell…
I’m reminded of Rutger Hauer’s character in the Ridley Scott film, Blade Runner;
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain”
Angela Robarts Bird Galley, Gasworks Arts Park. Albert Park, Victoria. 11 December 2018 – 13 January 2019.
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