Photographer – Matt Catley

Matt Catley, who goes by the name of Skye Dreamer believes we are all a part of Earth, and when we fall in love with our home we find a natural desire to protect and give back to our common life source. My art is offered as an expression of this affection with an invitation into participation with nature.”


Matt tells us that each creation starts with inspiration received while walking barefoot outdoors. They take form through a coalescence of found materials, such as rocks, leaves, and branches brought together by his hands. A photograph is taken to capture the transient art, rendering it digitally for a chance at permanence. The photo is printed locally, wood for the frame received from fallen trees, and the final framed piece built by him so he can share the wild fruits with the viewer.


The nature art displayed spans the last four years of his creative journey through this medium. They feature natural creations from Calgary to Victoria, down the West Coast to Baja, Mexico, and overseas in the tropics of Malaysia. While his entire collection is dozens strong, these photos were selected as a mixture of personal and fan favourites. He hopes they may serve as a reminder of the beauty of the wild, the potential of co-creating with nature, and the healing power of a curiosity for the unknown.


This month will be Matt’s first participation in the Exposure Festival, which he expresses excitement in taking part. The growth and evolution of his art has been gradual, and started with the initial spark of inspiration from Andy Goldsworthy. His nature art is featured in a documentary titled “Rivers and Tides” back when he created his first piece “Formless Fibonacci”, the day after watching Andy’s movie. While nature art (or land art) has been around for a few decades, the movie introduced his to this crucial moment and concept.


The use of photography to capture the transient nature art came from Matt’s desire to share his creations with others. “I had some experience with photography throughout my childhood and youth that I was able to draw from to take the pictures.” His primary medium of inspiration is the creative aspect of the nature art which pushes him to dive further into his photographic skills so as to share his love of the outdoors. What initially started as a pure moment of co-creation with nature, soon grew to include photographic considerations of lighting, backdrop, perspective, and colours within the entire scene in the photo to really highlight the nature art in the best way.


“I currently use a Panasonic Lumix to take the digital photographs and enjoy the expanded possibilities that emerge from the tools of the digital realms.”


As a lifelong fan of a more natural look to things, he finds himself constantly dancing with the question of how much digital editing he should use. “Hardly any digital photos you see these days aren’t modified in some way during post-production. I certainly tend towards minimal editing and when I do use Photoshop it is typically in order to make minor adjustments in lighting, colour, and balance.” He continues telling us “My preference is to retain as much of the original, natural look as possible. I don’t feel as though Photoshop is inherently a good or a bad tool for photography, simply that it allows for greater creativity and personal preferences to emerge in the artistic process. With the proliferation of digital editing however, I do feel that it is nice to know if a photograph is untouched digitally as that requires more skill on the photography side, rather than the digital editing side of the artistic process.”


“I find myself enjoying most every creative process I am given opportunity to try as each medium offers new skills and insights that transfer to my core creative passions. Having a greater understanding and appreciation for multiple artistic platforms enhance my own talents and gifts as well because inspiration is infectious!”


Although the majority of Matt’s nature art path was primarily immersed in the creation and growth of his nature art skills, the photographic side of his work has been taking him in new directions as he learns more about this artistic medium and the journey of sharing with others, both digitally and tangibly through printing and framing.


“I am currently working on building my community base through the recent completion of my fourth annual nature art calendar for 2018 as well as getting my framed pieces into people’s homes, markets, shows, and galleries in Calgary.”


Since his first steps into printing and framing, just over one year ago, he has been given the opportunity to show his work in two galleries, four art markets, two local retail stores, one print media publication, and a few web media uses. While these experiences were incredible, his tells us his greatest accomplishment is found in the large picture, with all of it taken together, having been able to fund his life and travels through his creativity. “It is a challenging and rewarding path as I learn to transform my art into service and value for the community who take the step into the unknown with me. Knowing that there are people who are willing to help support and nurture my creative gifts means the world to me.”


You can see more of Matt’s photography at the following sites: