‘DOUBLEXX’ fine art photography
Through his capturing of unique, ephemeral moments,
PTMadden’s sensitive and haunting photographs reveal the
unseen Chester with all its rich beauty and mysteriousness.
Dr. Emma Roberts
hidden in the city I thought I knew so well.
Director, Chester Art Centre
The photographs draw out an eerie uncanniness
that changes our perceptions of this ancient city.
Dr. Juliet Carroll
Senior Lecturer in Art History
Liverpool John Moores University
Chester Fog is an intimate photographic representation of PTMadden’s hometown, the walled cathedral city of Chester in Cheshire, England on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales. The photographs mix the visual and the poetic, blurring images and memory of the familiar and encompassing particular techniques and effects.
The photographs contained in Chester Fog were taken during two days of unusual weather – the mornings of Thursday 10 and Friday 11 January 2013. National Geographic describes fog as ‘a cloud that touches the ground’; fog reduces visibility, it makes things disappear and diffuses the horizon – and like snow, it alters the sound of the world and quietens it by preventing sound from carrying.
Physically, fog is a cold cloud trapped under a warm air mass and dissipates as drizzle – which explains why there are no people in any of the photographs, they were presumably all indoors keeping warm and dry. Some of the photographs feature birds lined up on rails and the bandstand roof, possibly perplexed by this rare weather condition. Other photographs reveal that the incoming tide from the Irish Sea appears to have flowed over the weir and brought the River Dee to a standstill. Aiming to alter time further, PT Madden post-processed the photographs using an improvised digitally fogged split-tone technique on the green-brown-gold spectrum with a slight vignette to emulate Henry Fox Talbot’s paper negative calotype process – which gives a softer effect than the metallic daguerreotype.
Unlike PTMadden’s other artist’s books of city photography – which are carefully planned and drawn out on maps before creating documentary photographs taken on the walk – this book records a dérive into an unusually mysterious, ethereal and otherworldly city landscape. Thus, by examining the photographic representation of space, proximity and distance in this particular weather condition, PTMadden recorded a personal event in a form that seems constantly in the process of becoming.
PTMadden’s photographic practice is concerned with skilfully representing selected events and places, and this exhibition and publication evolves as a diary of two special days defined by a particular set of weather conditions. The photographs create an emotional tension between the biographical moments of the days and a sense of theatricality. Collectively, this series of images expand into a timeless dreamworld inviting the viewer into Chester Fog.