Match, 2015

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The starting point for Match, 2015 by Sarah Pickering was the invention of the friction match by John Walker in 1827 and its coincidence with the production of the first photograph by Niepce also in 1827.

In collaboration with Dr Joe McGinnis of the Chemistry department at Teesside University, Pickering skillfully reproduced the chemical formula of the match head using the original recipe recorded in manuscripts at the Preston Park Museum in Stockton.The convenient production of fire and light in the form of a matchstick and the fixing of light in a photograph is brought together in the final image.

By recreating and lighting a John Walker ‘Congreve’ match, Pickering has been able to capture the same quality of light that would have been seen almost 200 years ago.

The image of a lit match fixes a fleeting moment and monumentalises a tiny object, with the 38 metre -wide scale of the print.

The installation is located in the heart of Stockton in a transitory space for traffic, pedestrians and those travelling by river which necessitates a striking image.

The building’s proximity to the cultural quarter and its function as a site of commerce resonates with the imagery of the match alight – symbolic of innovation and industry and a celebration of an iconic product and an important invention.In researching the Stockton-on-Tees region and its history Pickering wanted to identify themes that relate strongly to her practice.

The subjects of Pickering’s photographs are often made in collaboration with institutions and the match follows on from an interest in fire and explosives explored in her previous work.

Pickering’s ‘Explosion’ series depict a series of simulated pyrotechnic explosions used by British police and military instructors to intensify the sense of drama and tension in training exercises. Likewise her series ‘Fire Scene’ record set dressed interiors that are strategically burnt to train forensic teams and crime scene investigators.

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