Sarah Pickering won REFOCUS 2015 with her work "Match" which was inspired by the invention of the first ever friction match in 1827 in Stockton by John Walker, which coincided with the production of the first ever photograph by Niepce in the same year.
In collaboration with Dr Joe McGinnis of the Chemistry department at Teeside University, Pickering and Dr McGinnis skillfully reproduced the chemical formula of the match head using the original recipe recorded in manuscripts at the Preston Park Museum in Stockton.
By recreating and lighting a John Walker 'Congreve' match, Pickering and Dr Joe McGinnis were able to capture the same quality of light that would have been seen almost 200 years ago. The convenient production of fire and light in the form of a matchstick and the fixing of light in a photograph is brought together in the final image.
"The installation will be located in the heart of Stockton in a transitory space for traffic, pedestrians and those travelling by river. I believe this necessitates a striking and dynamic image. The building’s proximity to the cultural quarter and its function as a site of commerce resonates with the imagery of the match alight - symbolic of innovation and industry and a celebration of an iconic product and an important invention," added Pickering.
Also made for the commission is a photograph taken of an original John Walker Congreve match that is held in Preston Park Museum and Grounds' collection. This will be an editioned work, printed at a 1 to 1 scale.
Sarah Pickering researches truth versus verisimilitude through the medium of photography. Her images preserve actions whose causality and construction seem to be part of an alternate, but no lesser, reality. She has worked with the emergency services, pyrotechnic manufacturers, TV prop makers, art forgery and gunfire to produce some of her most recent bodies of work.