'Chora' Exhibition Review: Dig Yorkshire

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'Chora' - New Photographs by Matthew Conduit.
Woodend Gallery, Scarborough, UK

When we consider recent government spending policies and, of course, cuts, public opinion remains divided, and generally apathy rules. The Brits however demonstrated a united front in 2011.

However, when faced with the proposed privatisation of woodland currently owned by the Forestry Commission, the country declared that it is determined to hold on to its shared inheritance.

Matthew Conduit’s pristine composite photographs, of brash surrounding his home turf, Sheffield, celebrate the baffling and unruly aspect of nature. He presents age-old questions relating to cultural identity, history, tradition and, importantly, preservation. These are grandiose images of verdant hinterland that remain open for us all to share and reflect on, and not take for granted!

He has vividly and sharply magnified flora, exposed and brutalized by the ravages of winter. The images are eerily still, yet loud: the peel of silver birch blazing across the picture frame or the cacophony of ivy creeping beyond the image intent on being heard beyond the frame. Somewhat like a portrait photographer, Conduit has captured the soul of the woodland.

Light abounds in Conduit’s photographs, and although there are no references to the horizon or sky, we are reminded of the magnificent and intricate chain of events that compose natural elements.

These images are the antidote to the conurbation: to entrenched, and monotonous living. Presented at eye level, the viewer could be mistaken for thinking they could step into the scene. Alternatively, the scene could intrude into the gallery and embrace you: we are dealing with controlled photographs of uncontrollable scenes.

The 3D quality of each image, reminiscent of Magic Eye pictures brings comparisons between the surface of these photographs and Jackson Pollock’s paintings. Parallels may be drawn, but Conduit’s photographs stand for a necessity to focus on detail as a metaphor for acknowledging the importance our own backyards – our common playground.

Jade Montserrat. July 2012
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