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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past

In Search of Frankenstein

Chloe Dewe Mathews

05th Oct - 05th Jan 2019

From melting glaciers to nuclear bunkers, 
In Search of Frankenstein reveals the present-day landscape that once inspired Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking novel. In the bicentennial year of its publication, Impressions Gallery presents a specially-expanded version of Chloe Dewe Mathews’ acclaimed exhibition, first shown at The British Library, London.

Dewe Mathews was inspired by the novel’s genesis in 1816, when Mary was holidaying on the shore of Lake Geneva with her future husband the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and companions including Lord Byron. The peculiar climactic conditions of ‘The Year Without Summer’—the repercussions of a volcanic eruption in the Dutch East Indies—forced Shelley and her companions to remain indoors, competing to write the best ghost story. Despite the efforts of the more experienced male writers, it was the eighteen-year-old Mary who created the monster that would become one of literature’s most enduring creations.

Travelling to Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps two centuries later, Dewe Mathews photographed the snow-covered mountains—not only from the outside, but also from within. Her images reveal a network of eerie subterranean bunkers, built in the Cold War to shelter the entire population of Switzerland in the event of a nuclear disaster. The miles of tunnels and chambers remain equipped and on standby, their curious apparatus evoking the electro-mechanical laboratory of Dr Frankenstein. These images stand in stark contrast to Dewe Mathews’ pale and fragile landscapes of mountains, lakes and glaciers.

As well as her photographs, the exhibition includes Dewe Mathews’ collection of vintage Alpine photographs and prints, and facsimiles of handwritten pages from Mary Shelley’s original manuscript The Geneva Notebook, now part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

In Search of Frankenstein is the outcome of an Artist Residency at Verbier 3-D Foundation in Switzerland, and is a British Library Exhibition supported by Verbier 3-D Foundation, Genesis Imaging, the Bodleian Library and Impressions Gallery.

Chloe Dewe Mathews
(born 1982, London) is an award-winning photographic artist whose work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Museum Folkwang and Fotomuseum Antwerp, as well as being published widely in newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times, Harpers and Le Monde. She received international acclaim for Shot at Dawn, inspired by the histories of soldiers executed by firing squad by their own sides during the First World War. The series was widely exhibited and published as a monograph by Ivorypress in 2014. Her awards include the British Journal of Photography International Photography Award, the Julia Margaret Cameron New Talent Award and the Royal Photographic Society Vic Odden Award. She is a graduate of Oxford University and the recipient of the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

Exhibition Resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 800kb)

Listen again

If you missed the Artist Talk with Chloe Dewe Mathews on Saturday 6 October, listen again via Soundcloud


What the papers say

Yorkshire Post
Telegraph & Argus



Chloe Dewe Mathews

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