Belfast Exposed is delighted to present Street View: Matthew Finn which features four projects – Mother, Uncle, Wife and Son – by artist Matthew Finn. Finn uses the people and events directly surrounding his life as visual references for projects that sometimes take years to realise. With no commercial constraints or deadlines, Finn’s subjects are people that are important in his life.
Over a thirty-year period, from 1987 onwards, Matthew Finn collaborated with his mother, Jean, to document her everyday life through a series of portraits taken in her home in Leeds. This series, Mother, is a record of the ordinary, of a daily routine with which we are all familiar. It is also a record of the gradual shift from middle age to old age, and, in Jean’s case, to the onset of mixed dementia and a move from the family home into residential care.
Finn’s father never lived with him and his mother and many times he would make promises that he never kept. His mother would wait to be picked up for a night out with Finn’s Father. Finn can remember her standing there dressed in her fawn, mohair coat, and he wouldn’t turn up. Eventually, she would retreat upstairs to take off her makeup and going-out clothes and return to the TV. This seemed to happen a lot.
Finn’s father is not present in these photographs just as he wasn’t in their lives and yet he haunts these images. He was also the main reason that this project became so important to both Finn and his mother.
Matthew Finn’s series Uncle follows a man through his journey around his home in a suburb of Leeds. The unremarkable story becomes poignant and remarkable through the time span of the collaboration as we follow Uncle Des from the age of 58 up to his death aged 84 in 2014. For over 25 years Finn followed his uncle documenting the everyday habits and quirks that we recognise in ourselves and how we utilise our space. Seeing Des struggle to understand a microwave, choose between potted plants, or being caught in the act during his annual task of cleaning the windows at Christmas, offers the viewer a unique insight into how time is spent at home. Ultimately, through these images, we slowly follow Des into his final moments.
Finn’s partner Martina was also happy to continue his obsession with photographing everybody in his life in his series entitled Wife. Relationships are about sharing and communicating. In this way, this collaboration is not based on unconditional love but an equal voice between Finn and his wife. As a result, this partnership is as much about Finn’s journey as it is Martina’s presence within the pictures.
The final work from Matthew Finn is entitled: Son. A person always there to be photographed. The ultimate expression of the photographer’s unique vision. A subject that never says no. But, how to photograph a baby, a young boy, and then a child with independent thought?
Finn started making pictures of his son Sebastian when was upset or unhappy but Finn soon realised that wasn’t who his son is. The photographs were not about Finn or his son. They were representations of a photographer weighed down by his own understanding of the visual histories of children in art photography. Finn had to learn that when your child says no it is sacred and should not be broken even for a photographic opportunity.
Street View provides a multimedia exhibition experience to increase the accessibility and visibility of photography on the streets of Belfast. Street View is a large digital window display, complimented with audio narratives, that showcases contemporary artwork by internationally renowned and local emerging photographers to an external audience on the streets of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.
Belfast Exposed believe photography is for everyone, it is accessible, meaningful and has the ability to tell stories, allowing us to create dialogue and reflect upon our history, inform our present and inspire a positive future. Street View is another opportunity to extend our vision beyond the confines of the gallery.