Chloe Dewe Mathews (b. 1982, London) is a photographic artist based in St Leonards-on-Sea. After studying fine art at Camberwell College of Arts and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford, she worked in the feature film industry before focusing on photography full-time. Her work frequently revolves around the relationship between memory, history, and climatic diversity; undertaking work in France, Belgium, Switzerland and the perimeter of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan, her projects are often the culmination of extended periods of detailed planning and research. The influence of her filmic background can be observed in the rich aesthetics of her landscape photography, which – through its strong conceptual focus – delicately evokes the human narratives which saturate apparently absent space.
In her 2016 series In Search of Frankenstein, Chloe delineates the unexpected relationship between an underground network of nuclear bunkers in the Swiss Alps and Mary Shelley’s seminal novel Frankenstein (1818) through thematic connection to the human destruction of nature. The contrast between the fierce fragility of the snow-covered mountains and the eerie abandonment of the subterranean chambers creates an almost autonomous sense of place, echoing the nightmares from which Shelley’s novel was borne. Far from supernatural, these anxieties are rendered tangible in the socio-environmental turbulence of our own era, a thread of urgency which ratifies the vital importance of Chloe’s entire body of work.
By Katherine Riley