Matthew Taylor Thomas explores the story of queer depression and the fight for survival in a toxic society in his new exhibition. The Brisbane Powerhouse hosts Stygian Stones during MELT 2019, the Festival of Queer Arts and Culture.
We saw one of the early photographs from Stygian Stones earlier in the year. Impressed by the power of the image, we immediately shared it in this magazine.
With the collection ready for hanging for MELT at the Brisbane Powerhouse, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to share more and talk to Matthew Taylor Thomas again.
Matthew sets his images by the poisonous waters of the River Styx, the boundary between Earth and the Underworld in ancient Greek mythology.
Stygian Stones follows a haunting journey through feelings of depression, despair, gender constructs, mortality and the power of words.
“I am not suffering depression, but I am depressed — depressed that leaders act the way they do. I am depressed that parties such as One Nation or Donald Trump rise to power based on a hatred of others.
“After living overseas for many years, I thought I was very fortunate to return home to Australia to live in one of the luckiest countries on Earth.
“But when I scrape below the surface, I feel trapped by those in power.
“We are very lucky compared to countries that suffer a lot of turmoil. However, I can’t help that often politicians are in it for themselves and not the people as a whole.”
“This played on my mind during the plebiscite. I thought about the nasty things I saw in the media or even written in the sky and the conversations I overheard.
Matthew hand-picked favourite local queer artists and performers who shared his need to express these feelings.
“I think at some point, all of us in the LGBTIQ+ community have felt depression or despair, especially those who feel like they don’t fit into the hyper-masculine society.
“We face varying levels of ridicule and bullying from many angles, including from within our own community.
“I particularly love the way I see Brisbane performers Jess Whoo and The Slaying Mantis consistently support each other and their peers online, always uplifting each other.
“I needed this positivity in my creative team, as well as in my life in general, to get through this dark-themed project and beyond.”
A cinematic visualette projected on the wall of the Visy Theatre Foyer accompanies the portrait collection. LGBTIQ+ ally Glen David Wilson collaborated with Matthew to film and edit the piece.
Matthew Taylor Thomas
Matthew inherited his love for photography from his mother. He grew up seeing her joy as she photographed wildlife and nature.
During his high school years, he studied film photography.
After ten years of travelling the world, he returned to Brisbane. In 2012, where he started work as a freelance photographer.
“Creating storytelling images is what really lights my fire.”
“My goal is to translate my vivid imagination and constant daydreams into powerful imagery. With precisely chosen clues and metaphors, I hope to tell a story, evoke a conversation and hopefully stand the test of time.”
“I live in a world where the soldiers of bigotry and hatred rise to power before our eyes. Everyday feels like battle against those who seek our demise.
Matthew Taylor Thomas’s collection is a visual representation of our maddening struggle. We alternate between living our truth and paying the price to conform and survive the toxic structures of society.
Stygian Stones allows the viewer to find their own narrative and mark out a journey along the banks of their own River Styx.
And Matthew allows us hope during our visit to MELT 2019 at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Stygian Stones allows the opportunity to stumble across soul quenching pieces of therapy along the journey.
And keep up to date with what’s happening at MELT 2019.
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