“records of things [not] seen”

A significant part of my reflections over the last few years have been about the relationship between my artist and teacher identities and how I make links and find modes of intersection between them. This work explores that discourse.

I have worked with the cyanotype process in numerous ways, but I am particularly drawn to the fact that its first significant use was as a contact process (a photogram) although it has been widely used to print from photographic negatives as well.

I remember visiting the History of Science Museum in Oxford and seeing an original copy of Anna Atkins book on British Algae and realised I was in the presence of an object that had been handled by its maker but also the paper must have been in contact with the samples she collected before being assembled into a book form. The pages had a history all of their own.

This fact, that the image on the paper directly references and is indexical of the object placed upon it, in direct contact with the paper, that physicality, the print as a point of contact between the referred and the referent is a tangible one, the object clearly and undeniably present but also representing all the other elements of contact and place as well.

In this series of works, the sheets are made by my students, coating materials with cyanotype chemistry in preparation for making their own images. The edges of the paper marked out as they are coated in chemistry. Layered in time, sometimes over a single lesson, sometimes over days or weeks. The students presence, their marks made in the process of making, their sharing of space and materials are present in these works, poetic epitaphs, archeological documents. They tell a narrative story of my identity in relation to my students; I lay out the sheets, tape them in place, mix the chemistry, set out the brushes, demonstrate the process. The students work in response, tentatively at first, then more boldly, exploring different materials, brush strokes, ideas. Their actions, intentions, and creative energy are captured in these sheets. The students move on having explored, developed and learned and this is what they leave behind, an indelible mark of our time together.

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