2019 – 2021 — England
About this series
“Rock, Paper, Scissors” began as a photo essay from French artist, Mathieu Chaze, to his sons while they teetered on the edge of their childhood. Over a relatively short but intense period of time, the photographer created a poetic, intimate and at times cinematic body of work that culminated in a celebrated photobook of the same name. The project ultimately surpasses the boundaries of Chaze’s own family and becomes a universal tale about boyhood, fatherhood, nature and our place within it.
The series became a story about love and competition between two brothers growing up in the English countryside. Chaze writes: “One morning, walking behind you through the misty lanes of our local woods, I had a sudden realisation. For the first time in my life, I remembered being your age and my dad mine. Days were fast turning into months and into years. How much longer would you remain little and we be at the centre of your world?” In each image, we read the eerie calm of observation; a father finding peace in the chaos of fatherhood, standing back to look over his boys to accept the inevitable letting go.
Thanks to the tension in each composition – between the stillness of the photograph and the foreboding movement of boys at play, animals stirring and weather advancing – these are not just saccharine photographs by a father of his sons. The pristine edges of a tree root, for instance, age impalpably against a boy’s sinewy, growing limbs. The child’s hands stretch to grasp the ancient specimen, there long after he leaves. In another composition, a lone sheep holds the gaze of the camera, almost confrontationally. Poised in a vast expanse of landscape, the creature is almost ghostly in its solitude, as if acknowledging its own mortality. Across Chaze’s work the land becomes the main character, an anchor in which we read the story, creating a longing for and a connection to our natural environment. (text: Carrie Scott)
Born in 1982 in Burgundy, France and now lives and works in the UK. After growing up in Lyon and studying law in France and in London, he started working first in Paris and then in London. During this time, he met his wife Amber and became the father of Edward and Hugo, now aged 11 and 10 respectively. A little under three years ago, he left behind his career in the City to dedicate himself fully to photography and to his family. He homeschooled his boys whilst working on his first photography book “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. The boys now back at school, Mathieu has turned his lens solely towards the landscape as he embarks on a project about the National Parks in the UK.
Sally Mann wrote about “Rock, Paper, Scissors” – “It’s beautifully done and those boys will treasure it, just as he hoped. Although, at the end he tells them not to take themselves (“ourselves”) too seriously, I’m not so sure I think that was the right advice. He took himself, and his passion, seriously enough, apparently, to quit his job and devote himself to making a mark, an artistic mark— he gave something truly meaningful to those kids and to anyone fortunate enough to see the book. Those boys I hope will be allowed to take themselves as seriously. They do have a good role model.”