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The Iceland Experience

On Saturday August 2nd, Matt Dixon will be back at Gallery 42 with more stunning images

Recently, Matt travelled to Iceland and will be displaying highlights from his new portfolio at Gallery 42

Thus far, Matt Dixon has offered us a world of colour, of shapes, filters, forms and strange places, made stranger by their collective visual ambiguity yet considered presence. Here, Matt combines his existing skills with a totally new set of subjects to produce an astonishing portfolio of landscape photography. This is landscape photography like you've never seen it before.

Also on display alongside Matt's new works will be selected works from his past portfolio, selected for for their contrast with the new shots from Iceland.

I interviewed Matt about the exhibition; you can read this interview just below.

Matt, firstly, let's start from the top. The basis for the show was your recent trip to Iceland. Tell us a little about your visit and your motives for going?

The reason I wanted to go was because I knew there was absolutely nowhere else in the world similar. You would go round a corner and the landscape would change dramatically without warning. I tried to get to the most remote and inaccessible areas possible to ensure all shots I took were completely unique to Iceland. I saw things that you only expect to see in dreams (as cliché as that sounds). It is called the land of fire and ice but would call it the land of strong winds and high tides. It made for difficult photography situations but it was worth it for the results.

How did it compare to your expectations; did you get what you wanted from it?

Oh, it was well above expectation(s) and (I) would certainly recommend it to any other amateur or professional photographers. It is so diverse that literally any aspect of photography could be covered, be it Landscape, Wildlife, Architectural etc. I had been wanting to go for a long time but never had the chance, but after a few months of discussion with fellow photographers and watching numerous videos of the Island I worked out the best place to stay to see the majority of the sites and the correct time of year that everything was accessible. Put it this way; my photos are a good representation of what I saw but certainly do not convey the sheer wonder of the island.

This portfolio is quite a departure from your precious work. What made you want to take your photography in such a new direction?

I wouldn’t say it’s a new direction that I’m going in, because I will most certainly be continuing my unique HDR photography. In fact I have plans for a new collection of HDR work in the future. But, I get what you're saying; this type of photography I have done isn’t full of manipulation like HDR. I wanted to pay tribute to the incredible natural landscapes that Iceland has to offer and I felt changing that to such an amount would not be a true reflection of what I saw. I think when you have natural beauty such as (in) Iceland, it needs to be shown in the most natural way. 

Do you think this is a direction you'll go in for a while longer?

To be honest, I am not sure which way to take it. I love my HDR style immensely, so completely forgetting it would feel like a betrayal to where my career started. Saying that, however, I must admit I have thoroughly enjoyed not having to do much to the image in this latest collection and If I do another trip similar then I’m sure you will see a return of this more natural form of imagery.

There's a stunning picture of a Dakota wreckage, which we're using as a promotional image. Could you tell us a little more about it?

Well, the remarkable story behind the Dakota {US Air Force plane} was that over 40 years ago it was believed to have been shot down, forcing the pilot on board to make an emergency landing. It flew low for 100 miles waiting for its chance to slow down and crash land. The pilot saw the lights of Vik - the Southernmost town of Iceland - and found the miles of black sand beaches that surrounded it. He landed the plane softly enough that there was no serious damage to the hull and ensured the safety of all of them on board, who managed to escape and walk to Vik.

Since that time, the plane has been battered by ungodly winds and minus temperatures for three quarters of each year. It remains in very good condition considering. The image itself I hoped would be a testament to the plane, picturing it as the sole feature on the horizon. Left to be forgotten. I hope my images allow people to think and imagine that moment half a century ago.

You've chosen the title of 'The Iceland Experience', which suggests that your new portfolio is quite an immersive experience. In what way do you reckon that's the case?

I think to me the experience refers to the time spent getting to the location, seeing the diverse landscapes and traveling across roads never before inhabited in the billions of years this beautiful planet has been in existence. I believe the word experience relates to the locations I saw and the moments shared with the person I was with; But, most of all, I wanted to give the viewer the sense of experience by seeing the complete range of landscapes that were available. My images show snapshots of the natural world that made up the Icelandic Landscape that, when shown together, create The Iceland Experience.

Do you have any favourite images from the show?

Haha - that is a difficult question. I love every image I do for individual reasons. But, there is one that sticks in (my) mind and that is the image of the Ford 4x4 with the Dakota in the background. A juxtaposition between old America and new America. The Ford coped very well with all the terrains I covered so I felt it deserved to be recognized.

There's a great juxtaposition between your new work and your older stuff. What do you think that adds to the exhibition?

I think having both collections at the exhibition will give everyone something to enjoy. It also will help show that I, as an artist, am not just limited to one form of photography and most of all it will create a talking point and hopefully make the viewers think differently about each style and create their own thoughts on each image.

Any final comments to make?

Just briefly to say a thank you to everyone that comes in advance, as it is because of you that I can go to these amazing places and I hope to continue doing so. 

We really hope you can join us for the preview evening on Friday 1st at 7pm, but if not the exhibition will be open for three weeks thereafter and we'd be happy to welcome you in.