As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, one of the main aims of Document Scotland over the past decade has been our focus on showcasing emerging photography talent and new voices here on our website. Today, we are delighted to feature the work of Biggar-based photographer Andy J Mather, a recent graduate from Greys School of Art. Here he tells us about his commission-based project Incidental Moments, undertaken and completed during the Pandemic.
“It takes a catalyst to initiate change, for me, it was the passing of my late father. This naturally led me to reflect on my own mortality and what I wanted to do with my life, it was my gateway to a career in photography. My first experience of photography was in my late teens as part of a module at Edinburgh Art College. I remember being particularly struck by the physicality of the medium and the creative process of visually editing and composing the world around me to produce a photograph. The time had come to revisit this creative endeavour and learn my craft, so I enrolled and graduated in 2019 with a BA in Professional Photography from Grey’s School of Art.”
“My first professional commission was with property developer Parabola in partnership with Stills gallery. Incidental Moments was planned to be a one-year residency but was closer to three. The brief was to document the construction of One New Park Square on the outskirts of Edinburgh and I would be on the ground from day one. The scope, scale and duration of the project was all well beyond my experience, but the creative freedom of expression offered by Parabola to produce a long-form body of work was reassuring and exciting in equal measure. On reflection, I needn’t have worried, the work I created during the residency secured me my first set of awards, the Portrait of Britain and the AOP Emerging Talent Award. Perhaps more importantly, it gave me the confidence to engage with and trust my creative process. The commission has taught me I produce my best work when I channel the quirks of my personality through a visual medium like photography. As a perfectionist, I felt bound to control the chaos and restore a degree of order around me when I was on-site. I achieved this through considered framing and compositions, cropping out the chaos to produce imagery that stands apart from the complexity of a live building site. I ended the residency with an archive of over nine thousand images, this was progressively edited down to around twenty photographs. As the residency progressed, a visual style and aesthetic started to emerge, one based around desaturated pastel tones, diffused light and minimalistic geometric composition. I was motivated to show that, regardless of the environment, moments of incidental beauty and the extraordinary exist.”
“The decision to include both colour and black-and-white imagery was made first because the nature of a live building site meant a lot of hi-vis clothing which was far too garish and saturated to sit well among the more subtle muted palette of the series. Secondly, the portrait series was always going to be black-and-white from the outset. I wanted to show the grit and texture of the characters I was photographing, the years of working outside in all manner of conditions have not been without consequence and the best way to render this aspect of their character is a considered black and white retouch. At this point, the project is unpublished, but I aim to host a solo exhibition with an accompanying book in 2023. As a testament to how well received the project was received by the client Parabola, they printed and framed fifteen of my images which are now on permanent display in the reception of One New Park Square, Edinburgh Park.”
Images © Andy J Mather, all rights reserved.