Gergie Mattingley’s work for KCAT was created during an artist residency at Bupa Aged Care in Kyneton. For 18 months leading up to KCAT, Mattingley has spent significant time at Bupa getting to know the residents who have lived many years in Kyneton - particularly those who worked in industries that were once booming, but are no longer in operation.
In the past, some of Kyneton’s biggest employers were mostly jobs of manual labour, including the butter factory, sawmill, cotton mill and the Ajax Pumps foundry (where you are now) among others. However, today it is Aged Care. Mattingley’s research at Bupa informed a series of images that bring the residents’ memories of Kyneton back to life, while also shedding light on some of the industries that have shaped Kyneton’s economy and culture.
For KCAT, Mattingley produced six photographs and two video works, of which two photographs and one video were installed in the former Ajax Pumps Foundry site. Her works were installed within the lunch rooms and wash rooms, where the more intimate, human activities took place away from the harsh and industrial spaces of the foundry. There are also four photographs and a video work installed in architecturally significant sites around Kyneton.
Mattingley’s photographic works have been created using a combination of digital photography, analogue photography and painting. First, she created digital collages combining historical images of Kyneton sourced from archival collections with images from the internet and her own photographs captured at Bupa. These collages were then burned onto a 35mm negative black and white film, so it could be enlarged and developed in the dark room. The black and white photographic prints were hand-tinted into colour with the help of Bupa residents.
A video projection installed in the old workers’ wash room depicted a bunch of roses floating mid-air above an old industrial hand-washing basin. The rose plants from which these actual roses came from used to grow at the entrance of the foundry, formally known as ‘Ajax Pumps’. They were admired dearly by one of the Ajax office ladies who remembers them winning prizes at the Kyneton Show for Best Flower. The foundry gardener gifted her a cutting, which she planted at her home. All these years later the roses still bloom and call to mind fond memories. The basin used to be fitted with elaborate iron-caste tap heads that washed the hands of six workers at a time. Foundry workers lined up to wash their hands in this basin after each shift. The now empty old foundry used to be a loud, busy, hot and sweaty workplace for many Kyneton locals. Former Ajax Pumps workers estimate that the foundry operated from around the late 1940’s until the early 2000’s. Some of the products manufactured here were iron-caste pumps, pipes, irrigation couplings and shoes for the railway tracks. During the foundry’s busiest time, it employed around 80 workers which declined to around 30-40 workers before it closed down. The foundry is believed to have shut down due to iron-caste products being increasingly imported from India.
Mattingley collaborated with Kyneton composer Zoë Barry, who created three sound works to accompany the installations at the foundry site. Barry’s sound collages feature cello, piano and recorded interviews with Kyneton residents who worked at Ajax Pumps, the cattle sales-yard, the Kyneton agricultural show, and the bowling club.
Georgie Mattingley works predominantly with photography, video and painting. Her practice uses beauty and colour to make society’s hidden spaces more visible. By visually transforming these spaces, her work unravels the value systems that repress them and proposes a more holistic acceptance of realities that Western society encourages us to avoid. Mattingley lives and works in Melbourne.
Zoë Barry is a cellist, composer and performance maker working in film, theatre and installation. She has recorded with Sia, toured with Missy Higgins and performed with a wide range of acclaimed artists. She is also a member of The Letter String Quartet.
Kyneton Contemporary Inc gratefully acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government and Public Record Office Victoria for making this project possible. We also acknowledge the support of BUPA Aged Care Kyneton for their support with this project; and the generosity of Glenn Rollo for enabling this project to be presented.