Tuesday, 10 May 2011

"Light was needed to create the images but ultimately it also caused their destruction."

This is some brand new experimentation of mine but it is something I have been thinking of doing for quite a while. I have always struggled with the fact that my pieces of work are ephemeral and that if they are displayed they will fade and, in a sense, be destroyed.

My third year work did concentrate more on allowing the pieces to fade over the time that they were displayed in a gallery space and it soon became linked to performance art. The work had a life, once it was taken down from its space in the gallery it would have completed its life cycle.
The work I am currently making allows the image to be preserved.

In the early days of photography Fox Talbot and his associates were attempting to find the most effective way to fix the photographs they were making. Light was needed to create the images but ultimately it also caused their destruction.
The desire I have to show people the images I have made and the fear that too much exposure will eventually destroy them was felt long before my time in the early 1800s by Thomas Wedgwood. He created images, which were probably very similar to ones I am making today, but frustratingly found no way to fix them,

"only by keeping his results in darkness could they be prevented from becoming total dark blankness: he showed them almost furtively, by the light of a candle" (Newhall, 2006, p13)

When methods were discovered that would allow the early photographers to fix their images there were still problems with how to display them. Too much exposure to natural light would still cause some damage to the image. Delicate daguerreotypes were kept under glass, in velvet lined cases to prevent them from becoming damaged by light and to stop their surfaces becoming worn away.

Later ambrotypes, which are negatives on glass displayed on a black background to produce a positive image, became more popular as they were easier to produce and slightly less delicate than daguerreotypes. They were given the look of the daguerreotype by being placed in similar decorative cases.

Having a photograph in a small case gives it a more personal aura, it is an individual and private experience to view it. It gives the photograph status as a precious object. It says this image should be viewed on its own, separate from any others. Even a series of them would demand that they be viewed as individual objects.

I purchased some ambrotypes from ebay, removed the original images and replaced them with my own prints. I made these prints specifically for this project. The silhouettes of the plants are delicate and soft and they would disappear very quickly if displayed in a frame in daylight. In their cases they are protected from light and other damage. However each time they are opened and viewed they will fade a very small amount, something that would only be noticeable after a long period of time. This allows for only short viewings of the image, which adds to the preciousness and importance of them.

The images themselves comment on nature and its fragility, they show the simple, but beautiful forms of plants. They could also relate to those first photographic experiments and the botanic cyanotype documents created by Anna Atkins. The images reflect the fact that nature is ever changing, even if we don't notice it at first and that it needs to be protected before being damaged forever.

Newhall, B. (2006) The History of Photography, New York, Museum of Modern Art

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Some more portraits

Or should that be some "Moore" portraits? Anyway, I made some more portraits in my style, this time I had wet hair so the hair in the image is more defined and the moisture created a colour change on the paper. I wanted to scan them but they're too big so here's some photos of them on the wall. Again its just an experiment but I'm quite happy with the results of these.


Some of my outdoor work.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

White Cube Antics

This was my last week working at the White Cube warehouse. I've been working on a project for Anselm Kiefer....his show will open at Hoxton Square on the 11th March, unfortunately the piece I have been working on will not be on display in this particular show but hopefully I will get to see it in situ at some point.
It was also the opening of the Mona Hatoum show 'Bunker', at Mason's Yard on Thursday evening so of course I attended that. I've only fairly recently become familiar with her work and I particularly like the piece thats currently on show at the Whitechapel.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

You can travel the world, but nothing comes close to the Bournemouth coast

Some of my work made in Bournemouth, such good memories, need to go back soon!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


Happy New Year everyone. Before Christmas I was asked about creating some kind of portrait using my method of working. I have never tried this before as I always work with landscape, therefore I had my doubts about how well it would work, but there was only one way to find out....

The top image shows a scan of the original piece. To create this I took a sheet of photographic paper straight from the box and laid my head down on it, in daylight, for about 5 minutes. When I took my head off the paper my silhouette was captured. There is not a lot of detail in the image but I expected that, what I didn't expect was that something that is rarely captured in an image was clearly visible. The pink shape near the mouth and nose is actually the mark my own breath made on the paper. The water vapour in my exhalations caused a chemical change in the paper changing the colour of it. A trace of the subject is now embedded in the image itself.

The bottom image is my attempt to create a more detailed portrait, something that might appeal to more commercial audiences. I layered a digital image of myself over the scan of the original piece. This then gives more detail and is recognisable as a certain person. Not too sure if it works or not.. or if the the two images together create a contradiction. If you have any thoughts, let me know!

(Photoshop is not my strong point so apologies for the mistakes there!)