Seven Questions With… Mark Mattock
The nature photographer and H&C contributor on his instagram project, the_kitchensink_diaries…
Can you tell us how The Kitchensink Diaries project came about?
The kitchen sink still lives are, I suppose, a classic example of that Garry Winogrand idea (in response to a question about why he takes photos) of simply wanting to see what something looks like photographed. Which now of course is facilitated and made infinitely possible for all of us by what I think is the most significant thing that’s happened in image-making photography: the smart phone. Photography has been totally liberated…
If you try to describe it to people (‘photos of his washing up’) it sounds really mundane but there is a real beauty in the images isn’t there? It feel very contemplative…
It’s as simple and familiar as: one morning, a composition of stuff in the sink attracts my attention, iPhone is taken from pocket, snap, snap, another image added to the countless. It’s encountered again later whilst scrolling through pictures during a dull moment and again attracts attention, so it then gets tweaked with the phone’s foolproof software. It’s good enough for sharing, I like it – done. It’s then, yet again, encountered a bit later, this time on Instagram. It’s been presented deliberately, with intention. So the next time I’m at the sink I’m now on it, aware of more potential image possibilities, I’m now more deliberately looking. The process is repeated, another image, and later another…
In terms of subject matter this feels like a bit of a departure from your more nature-focused work, and yet they sit alongside that work perfectly – are there common threads between them?
Unlike a lot of my other work I guess the main emphasis in the sink still lives is about the fundamental components of an image, the physical visual properties: colour, light, texture, composition, form and the tensions and relations between. And the idea that these can be seen in anything. How many classic images in great art, particularly still lives, are of the mundane, the very familiar; of things under your nose?
Is there any pun involved – intentional or otherwise – in relation to the phrase ‘everything but the kitchen sink’…?
It’s about ‘seeing the cosmos at the bus stop’ – or everything in the kitchen sink. And of responding instantly to that latest version of everything, and of how something can be squeezed from nothing… or anything. The constant stream of random compositions are much more exciting than anything ‘arranged’, sometimes a little tweaking is made by turning on the tap though. Or a new version appears during the washing up.
Do you enjoy finding creativity within such firmly defined parameters in terms of composition?
It’s about how, paradoxically, the constrictions and boundaries – in this case of a kitchen sink – can be pushed with this means to constantly visually muck about, because you now can.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
One of the more obsessive fans, (there are a few) of the Kitchen Sink Diaries pointed out recently that it’s lucky I don’t have a dishwasher! And it is the fact that this slightly ‘off piste’ body of work gained a serious little following that I decided to explore giving it its own instagram through which the only non-phone element of it all – prints – can be made available.
Do you have further plans for the project?
I don’t know how long I will give it. I don’t know where it will go, but in the context of the whole apparently image-saturated digital world, it’s kind of… interesting!