Steel Vignettes is a photographic exhibition showing the continuity of the Queen Victorian Museum and Art Gallery.
Photographer Scott Gelston was employed to photograph the methods, materials, machinery and manpower on display as artisan blacksmith Pete Mattila, created Transience – a five-metre tall, six-metre long fire breathing sculpture. Mattila used the blacksmith shop at the museum.
“You have this continuity of an artist building an artwork at the museum, while another artist documents them creating that artwork. Now that’s done a circle and the photographer has an exhibition, which is pretty special,” Gelston said.
In his first major exhibition, Gelston will showcase about 30 of 30,000 images taken over a six-month process.
He started the process in January two years ago and made more than 50 visits to the workshop.
“I looked at the images time and time again for two years. The fact that I’m still happy with them and look forward to sharing them with people is testament to the images,” he said.
The photos are printed on composite aluminium panels. The smallest print being the size of a movie poster.
“It’s basically a material that signwriters sometimes use. They’re really light safe, they don’t scratch easily and because it’s a panel they’re printed on, you simply have to attach the frame and it’s ready to hang on the wall,” Gelston said.
“They’re quite large, which is kind of what sets them apart as a photographic exhibition,” he said.
Gelston likened the process to writing a book.
“I had my main character which was Pete, then I worked out where the locations were, what events happened throughout and what the little events I wanted to focus in on were,” he said.
“So thinking about it like that made it a lot easier to make a coherent exhibition that had a start and an end point, instead of lots of pictures of a guy hammering steel and putting it into a fire.”
Gelston said the initial bond between the pair started a few years ago. The pair have since gained a mutual respect for each other as artists.
“I was doing a preview picture at the craft fair at Deloraine for The Examiner. We got along so well and both said we’d have to work together at some point. But then we lost contact. It was when he got commissioned to create a sculpture for TasGas that they got in contact with me to photograph his work.”
He said he was feeling “pretty good” about the exhibition, with all hard work over and the final touches being added.
Steel Vignettes is on show at Launceston’s QVMAG from February 25 until May 7. Entry to the exhibition is free.