Matilda Temperley: Somerset Levels Floods of 2014.

Sometimes speakers at the camera club deliver exactly what has been expected and sometimes we get a big surprise. This was exactly what happened when Matilda Temperley presented her talk on the Somerset Levels floods of 2014.

Matilda was uniquely placed for recording the flooding that overtook her local community and did not escape it herself. Although not trained as a photographer her high quality personal images were extremely poignant and featured in many UK national newspapers. Her book of this event ‘Under the surface’ chronicles the unfolding events of that time and how the local and wider farming and non-farming communities rallied to help people whose homes, possessions and in some cases livelihoods were submerged or swept away. Choosing to photograph in monochrome and sometimes from the air aboard a microlite, Matilda’s bold stark images capture both the enormity of what happened but at the same time have their own beauty. The book nearly suffered its own demise as her publishing company went into administration but Matilda’s tenacity overcame what appeared to be another disaster.

But that was only part one of the talk. What followed was a range of dramatic images from the world of fashion often shot through mirrors to give an other-worldly effect. Apparently the trend in fashion photography is now for more natural poses and little or no Photo-shopping. Then came some really unusual and frequently bizarre pictures from Matilda’s work with the circus and its performance. The sheer physicality of circus life was displayed in startling images of contortionists, female sumo wrestlers, bearded ladies and pop-eyed exhibitionists.

And then, as if in a casual extra Matilda presented work from a new book on Omo River tribe of Ethiopia where tourism is altering their cultural practices. What an evening this turned out to be – virtually five talks in one and all of them brilliant!