This body of work is the final output from my participation in the Lightwaves International Residency Exchange at VU Photo in Quebec, in association with StreetLevel Photoworks in Glasgow. Referencing the residency’s themes of migration and heritage I spent one month in Quebec City, researching and photographing, followed by several months in Scotland finalising the project, which was then exhibited at both galleries in late 2018. The Scottish writer and curator John McDougall, who was a contributor to the residency, offers a concise introduction to the work:
“Mat Hay, whose exploration of place is evident in previous projects, brings his painstaking approach to research to the fore. Creating graphic interpretations of the historical maps, graphs, and charts which formed the basis of his research in Québec and utilizing them as overlays upon his images, he produces a flattening of time and space which recognizes the depth of history and human movement which has formed our environments, social structures, and everything that comes with them. Observing the tools and infrastructures created for and by our movements while at the same time recording his own small part of that exploratory instinct, Mat gives the viewer space to think about how for the duration of our existence on earth humankind has naturally migrated.”
The prevailing image of rural Scotland is dominated by historical context and nostalgia, concealing the reality of daily life and the extent of human influence on the landscape. Seeking an alternative representation of his native country, Mat has spent several years documenting the remote communities and terrain of the Central Highlands, experiencing modern life thriving on the cusp of isolation, and the inherent bond between the people, their animals, and this rugged environment.
For a more detailed introduction to the project and how it has been made, please read an interview Mat gave to The Adventure Handbook. Available by clicking the link below…
The Australian cultural phenomenon known as Big Things began in the 1960’s. Inspired by popular roadside attractions in America, these large comical statues were designed to entice travelers out of passing cars and buses and into rural towns and businesses. With over 150 spread across the continent there is now a wide variety on display. More prominent ones include a 50-foot orange in fruit picking country, a 12-ton Koala named Sam with adjoining petting zoo, and a 100-ton concrete merino sheep named Rambo, impressively endowed and large enough to house a museum promoting Australia’s fine wool industry.
For the families traversing the country during school holidays, pulling in for pee-breaks, ice-creams, and photos, to the truckers and long-distance commuters who drink coffee or sleep in their shadow, these totems of trash culture are now an integral part of the Australian travel experience. For the foreigners that find them they offer an amusing insight into another part of the world, and are as random and baffling as they are entertaining.
The Orchard View
Commission from NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (with support from consultants Wide Open) to research and produce five large-scale photographic artworks to be permanently installed within the new Inverclyde Mental Health Continuing Care Facility in Greenock. Orchard View gives 24-hour care to people suffering sever mental illnesses, with particular focus on dementia.
During the six-month project Mat captured activities and recognisable local landmarks, manipulating them into bright and uplifting images in order to conjure positive memories from early to mid-life, trigger conversations, and connect the permanent residents to the outside world, the local community, and their past.