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 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.
It is a poignant body of work, filled with warmth yet conscious of the fragility of life. Quiet domestic interiors act as a stage for life's everyday details, and though the focus is on the individual the bond between mother and son is a powerful constant, even as the balance of that relationship begins to change. As Matthew Finn has said, “For my mother and I, this switch of roles was quick. Diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago, she fell silent and our collaboration was over. I no longer exist to her and she cannot recognise herself. What remains are these pictures.”
Born in Leeds in 1971, Matthew studied photography at The University of Derby before gaining an MA at Westminster. The recipient of the 2015 Jerwood/ Photoworks Award, his work has been exhibited widely including shows at The Jerwood Space, London, Impressions Gallery, Bradford and Open Eye gallery Liverpool. Finn is currently involved with the Hull International Photography Festival of which he is a patron.
In her essay, Elizabeth Edwards explores the context of the work. A visual and historical anthropologist, Professor Edwards has worked extensively on the relationships between photography, anthropology and history, on the social practices of photography, on the materiality of photographs and on photography and historical imagination.