Before beginning FMP I decided to explore my side project based on flowers as a possible route for my final major project. The project is called 'Preservation', exploring alternative ways to preserve flowers and their beauty. I explored fresh flowers, dried flowers, and wild flowers, including weeds. This also allowed me to experiment with a range of processes such as cyanotype and lumen printing, and although I had used these processes in the past I wanted to perfect them so I felt confident using them during FMP if I chose to. I created these during lockdown and between different modules, mostly between informing contexts and sustainable practices. Informing contexts was a difficult module with a lot of written work, reading and exploring different areas. I continued this project throughout and after the sustainable prospects module, it helped me to remember to enjoy the process of making work and how this can be just as important as the concept.
The oval cyanotypes were created to resemble cameos and give the images a sense of quality, because the prints are of weeds which are usually discarded or disliked, I felt this would give the weeds a new and deeper sense of meaning and worth. I felt it was important to add these into my CRJ as they are part of the progress into my final projects initial ideas, mainly because of the link to nature but also the altering of the flowers, giving them a new sense of meaning, creating a journey and narrative which can resonate with the viewer. It explores ideas of altering, life, death, sense of being and belonging as well as viewing the world differently.
After creating the flower camera-less prints, I decided to revisit Sutton Heath. When I began the MA Sutton Heath was the first place I went to in order to gain inspiration and think about my ideas. I hadn't been to the Heath for a number of years since a toxic relationship. I used to live across the road from the Heath and would walk there everyday, the sense of strength this area gave me enabled me to leave a toxic environment and make some big changes in my life.
When I returned to the Heath for this first time, I felt at peace and liberated. This area full of beautiful trees and ferns, feels magical and enchanted. During my time around the forest within the Heath, I decided to take some visual research images you see here. I called these 'Liberation', for me they are give a sense of relief, however others have commented that they feel chaotic and make them feel uneasy.
These images represent the energy I felt within the forest during this first visit. However there was a particular space in the forest which felt as though I was transported to an enchanted land, which is the area I'll be exploring further moving forward.
I have also created videos whilst out on my walks, which remind me of Bill Violas work. I often look at up the trees and am fascinated by the crown shyness of the trees, giving each other space and room to grow.
I called this video 'Oscillate' because of the swaying of the trees. For me looking up at these trees creates a meditative state, I get completely lost and I am in ore of the trees, this helps to ground me and become enchanted by the forest.
I have been creating short videos of the this space and view for at least 8 months and plan to continue showing it within my PK and making it a possible final piece for FMP or part of my visual research.
During this week I've got back the film I shot at the forest to bring more visual research into my work. These images were shot on Kodak Portra 400 using an Olympus OM10.
The images are visual records of the Heath and forest looking closely at different areas which I could explore further during FMP.
The image to the right is one I've shot a few times before, looking up at the crowns of the silver birches and appreciating the crown shyness created. This particular spot is in the centre of the forest which feels enchanted.
The images below were also shot on film, exploring the movement of the trees within the forest. I find the movement of the trees and the sound of the leaves rustling to be really relaxing and often creates a meditative state when alone in the forest. In previous projects I have explored forest bathing which will also be important within my FMP work.
Thinking about my proposal and past projects, it is becoming clear that narrative and our relationship with nature is the main focus of my work. However I want to be able to find some history, stories or contextual research which links to these spiritual feelings and energies felt within the Sutton area.
Pecha Kucha Feedback
This week I also had my first meeting with WM. We discussed the fact my project was lacking in specific direction and is currently vague. WM suggested looking at forest bathing as a particular area for research, using myself and/or others as the subjects and focus. We discussed how the forest can be used as a area for healing and exploring this idea further, and I could consider the medicinal qualities of any plants in that area.
The video piece of the trees swaying, which was created at the start of my MA, was well received and it was discussed that filming forest bathers or myself could be an option, depending on the situation with COVID of course. WM suggested a few artists to explore such as Chrystel Lebas, Mat Collishaw and Mark Wallinger. Overall I was happy with the feedback given, but disappointed my area of focus and intent is still unclear at this point.
During this week I've been planning my project proposal. It's been a tough few weeks trying to consider how this FMP is going to look. During the first module of the MA I focused on trees as the main subject, with the stories behind the images the most important concept, moving forward I started to bring people into the images which seemed to be less successful, so I decided to remove their identity and use the bodies as just figures within the images, this did work better but the images were again less well received. There has been a battle for me between what I'd like to do, what I think I should do because of the feedback given over the past modules, however I think I can find an in between.
So I have decided my project will be focused on exploring my sense of belonging amongst Silver Birch Trees located at Sutton Heath. Using my own personal experiences, thoughts, memories and feelings to create imagery transporting the viewer into my imagination, whilst also considering stories of the past.
My current project theme is broad, so I will need to narrow down these concepts through research and investigation. However I do now know within my project I want to create work, which uses the Silver Birch to examine human connections with these particular trees over time through poetry, folklore, and image making. The work I produce will give these trees their voice, telling their own stories, as well as stories of the past.
First official shoot
My first shoot is going to be focusing on the mounds and tops of trees, looking closely at the textures below the silver birches and looking up at their details. I will be using polaroids to instantly capture the trees and also go to the forest in the evening, at dusk to capture a different type of light. I've only ever really been to the forest in the morning or afternoon so it'll be interesting to feel the difference in energy and see the forest literally in a different light.
These instant images were from the first official shoot for my FMP. I shot them on instant film as I wanted to be able to capture the fleeting moments in the forest and be able to examine the images and the light without any post processing. The images are all slightly blue due to the time of day, the sun had gone down and the trees were forming silhouettes. I used the flash to capture some of the details of the leaves and experimented with movement to capture the swaying of the trees but also create an uneasy feeling to the images. The darkness and tint of the images remind me of the work by Chrystel Lebas who I have been exploring within my contextual work, however Lebas images look more closely at the details within her 'Hidden nature' series.
These images were shot digitally, I chose to create these in response to looking at Chrystel Lebas work. I've become fascinated with the small moss covered mounds in the area below the silver birches. To me they feel powerful and as though they could be magical in some way, they are mysterious, so delicate and beautiful. Whilst photographing them I decided to collect some of the fallen leaves and part of the moss to later create photograms and/or cyanotypes as an alternative way to capture and record the pieces. I decided to pair up the silver birch tree and with a detail of the mound. I think this works well joined rather than we a space between, it creates more of a clear link between the two images, however I think it might work better with the tree on the left and the mound to the right so it gives a sense of place before the detail.
At the moment the images I am creating are all about exploring and experimenting. Trying out different ways I can capture the forest and space and tell it's story.
This week I've been looking at the images I've created on film, focusing on the tops of the trees, trying to experiment with my imagery and narrow my intent.
These images are ok, but are a very difficult style to the one I want to achieve, some of them are too obvious and the movement ones, similar to Lebas dreamlike landscapes feel too much.
I want to capture the delicate areas of the forest, bringing it closer to the viewer so they can become completely lost in the work and therefore the forest, similar to the experiences I have.
Due to the lack of contextual research or rather focus or intent, this project feels as though it is becoming repetitive in the image making.
The images of the mounds from last week feel more like where this project should be heading. I have begun to look at in more detail the surrounding area of Sutton Heath to find links with my work.
Within my research I have learnt more about the area of Sutton Hoo, which is less than a mile up the road. Sutton Hoo is an estate previously owned by Edith Pretty. It is said Edith Pretty became obsessed with some mounds on the estate and got them excavated and discovered an Angelo Saxon burial ground.
I have only just realised the link between the story of Edith Pretty and the work I am producing so this is an area of study I am going to consider moving forward.
During this week I have been researching more into Edith Pretty and her story of Sutton Hoo and revisiting the Heath.
I didn't include Edith Pretty in my project proposal, partly because I was unsure of the links, the very recent findings and also because of the word count, I now feel it would have been a strong contextual link and a good focus for my project.
I decided to take my friend to Sutton Heath over the weekend who is a freelance contemporary dancer. She is often inspired by nature and the movement of trees. I didn't tell Karen where the exact space I am researching was and took photographs throughout the entire forest. However when we did get to the space Karen decided she wanted to stop and record a short dance piece for one of her future workshops.
Whether she picked up on my energy, or whether it was the energy of the forest I'm unclear, but it was a good experiment to see if others got a 'feeling' from this spot. I intend on taking others to this particular spot without them knowing the importance to see how they react or interact with the space.
Project Proposal Feedback
I didn't do as well as I had hoped on my FMPP, and after speaking to WM I wish I had included the Edith Pretty research. The ideas were presented well with good references but the intent was still unclear. WM suggested focusing on the mounds over Sutton and the Sutton Hoo link, possibly created collages with archival imagery.
WM suggested working more on using the photographs as visual research rather than outcomes and this should help frame the work. We had a discussion on how 'nature can shape us', how it can 'shape our being' which is a closer concept to my original ideas but WM is keen for me to dig deeper with the Edith Pretty work so the plan moving forward is to visit Sutton Hoo and see if this helps to focus my intent.
Sutton Hoo did not disappoint, the energy within the space, around the house, mounds and fields felt incredible. On my arrival I decided to head straight to the house belonging to Edith Pretty, now donated to the national trust. Instantly I felt myself trying to relate to her experiences. Within the first room of the house which would have been the lounge, displayed portraits of Edith and her family both photographically and through paintings. The 'museum' had small artefacts from the first excavation and a timeline of events. There were snippets about Edith, including letters she'd sent her to sister and objects displayed in cabinets.
Moving through the house I looked out of the windows imagining how Edith must have felt looking out over her estate and at the giant mounds. I learnt more about Edith's history, particularly the impact of the death of her husband Frank. Wandering out of the house there was a sign on the floor which read; 'Now walk in the footsteps of an Angelo Saxon warrior' but I wasn't even considering the Angelo Saxon history, for me this journey was all about walking in the footsteps of Edith Pretty.
As I wandered down to the field, the energy got stronger and above me hoovered some sort of bird of pray, where ever I walked the bird followed. Whether this was just coincidence, I don't know but for me it felt like Edith, guiding me on the walk which was off the beaten track compared to where the other visitors were going, however I did end up at the mounds eventually. It took me through a small woodland walk where once again there were silver birch trees. As I approached the mounds, I pictured Edith there looking closely at them, however due to COVID I couldn't get as close as I would have liked as the smaller, closer passage was closed. From the mounds you could see the balcony of the house, this is where it is said Edith was when she has a vision of a warrior on top of the mounds during a seance with friends.
The link between Edith's visions and spiritual interests is what inspires my project, the dreams she experienced which then led her to action of excavation where her visions became facts. The cross over between imagination and reality. I plan to edit the images during week 8 and take a closer look at her life and her spiritual journey.
The images above are photograms I have also created this week using the moss collected from week 4. I wanted to use the moss to create a type of scientific record similar to the work of Anna Atkins, although Atkins are cyanotypes, I felt photograms would create a more detail image of the moss. I placed the moss into the negative carrier rather than directly onto the paper to produce shallow depth of field creating a more ethereal image. These photograms remind me of fairies dancing, I'm unsure if that's because thats what I think is happening amongst the mounds over the Heath, or rather imagining, but to me that is what they represent. The mixture of recording the moss and creating an imaginative image the viewer can be transported into. These images are 7"x5" prints, I tried to create a larger 10"x8" and A3 print but they didn't produce the same intimate qualities.
The images below are photograms of silver birch leaves also collected during week 4. This again linked to 'scientifically' recording the image, but also giving that one single leaf some importance. The leaves of the trees are all individual and unique and I wanted to capture this, as well as create intimate mini photograms which measure roughly 10cm x 8cm. Throughout my work I want to keep recording and experimenting with various processes, rather than continue with one type of photography, this is because I want to be able to capture the different areas of the forest in a variety of ways to show its entirety.
This week I have been reading about Edith Pretty and editing the images shot at Sutton Hoo. The images I took were more for research purposes rather than final images. I've experimented with putting them in black and white, partly because it was a very grey day but also to give them a timeless feel.
I focused on the views Edith Pretty would have seen either looking back at the house or across her estate to the mounds. Unfortunately due to Covid I couldn't get as close to the mounds as I'd hoped to get some detail shots similar to those taken at Sutton Heath.
Looking at these images I've started to think about how I could collage or combine them with archival photographs of Edith Pretty or the estate. My aim is to produce a book for this project so a combined book with my own images, text and archival images could be a nice way of combining both of our narratives and journeys.
The plan is the revisit Sutton Hoo and take more images thinking more carefully about how I can create final images rather than just for research. Also as it was my first experience of Sutton Hoo the energies felt were overwhelming so I'd like to go again to see if it was temporary and excitement, or something else.
After visiting Sutton Hoo and having some reflection time, I began thinking about automatic writing. I've created pieces of writing each time I visit the heath in Sutton, either within the forest or afterwards. The writing becomes automatic and meditative.
Seeing the pieces from Sutton Hoo which stated, 'Now walk in the footsteps of an Angelo Saxon Royalty' I couldn't get it out of my head, but in my mind I was saying 'now walk in the footsteps of Edith Pretty' and it got me thinking about how we walk in so many other peoples footsteps before our own, how how they then walk in ours in the future.
Using my type writer I began to frantically type 'Now walk in the footsteps' missing off Edith Pretty to not give the writing any identity.
During my 1-2-1 this week WM and I discussed the possibility of using archival images with my own to create collages and a zine using The Newspaper Club, accompanying the images with text and contact prints. To keep me focused on my intent WM also suggested writing a 300 word paragraph every time I get lost. After visiting Sutton Hoo, I've been feeling as though my project is taking a different route and need to gather together my thoughts and make a clear intent for this project. WM suggested looking in more depth at Edith Pretty and also Chrystel Lebas 'Field Studies' looking closely at her project in relation to revisiting sites, adding maps, and looking at how the landscape has changed.
We also discussed making sure I shoot each week regardless, and looking at various times of day for example dusk or dawn to create a wider variety of images and colours within my work. The plan is to go out this weekend and the start of next week and create more images linking back to my original work looking at the Heath.
I decided to experiment with the images of Edith Pretty and the ones shot at Sutton Hoo, I wanted to try and combine my shots of nature with Edith. I tried to experiment with double exposure but this didn't work with the style of Edith's images. I also tried to put the images side by side and adding text, but again it wasn't working. The project felt exciting when I visited Sutton Hoo but I have started to feel lost again, wondering if the project is a historical research project into Edith and her life, or if she is there just as contextualisation.
This week I received back my film from last week exploring Sutton Heath. I chose to go at 1pm on a sunny day to try and get a different perspective of the Heath and a different light. Revisiting here again after my trip to Sutton Hoo, I felt myself looking deeper into the details of the forest. I tried to shoot differently, not only focusing on the tree canopy but also the close up details of the fallen silver birch trees and their ever changing leaves.
The forest felt autumnal and warm, it was altering itself ready for the winter months, most of the leaves had fallen and the ones left were starting to turn.
I shot the trees using an Olympus OM10 on Kodak Portra 160 film, this film always gives a soft slight warm tone to the images.
I decided to also revisit experimenting with the lens and shutter speed to try to capture something different, I am aware my images may end up all looking similar, so this shoot was about exploring the forest in more depth and trying something new. My favourite images from this shoot are the opening of the forest, the close up canopy of the trees and the peeling detail of the silver birch, each one gives a different and unique view of the forest, telling its story.
This particular shoot stands out from all the others so far, it feels welcoming and warm with less darkness, maybe just because the sun was actually shining that day, or maybe because of my project developing with its links with Edith Pretty, it feels more real, more spiritual and more worthy.
During the weekend of week 10, I decided to take WM advice and get up at dawn to take some photographs of the forest. I have been looking at the images this week and comparing them with the film photographs shot at 1pm in the afternoon.
I am glad I chose to go at dawn because the forest felt incredibly different. It was so quiet, more than normal and felt eery, to begin with I felt uneasy, but as the time went on and I began to photograph, with the birds singing the forest started to come alive.
The images are all slightly tinted blue which adds to the eery feel, but they are beautiful. I have always liked a blue tint to my images, but these are unedited digital images, other than the canopy shot where I have muted the clarity to give it a softer look and feel. I tried to focus on the various details of the forest trying to capture its voice in different ways but also share my journey. I think the tree top images here work best as you can see the very blue tint of the sky and the silhouette showing detail of the tree tops.
Trying to capture the eery feeling of the forest, I experimented again with shutter speed, inspired by Lebas' dream landscape images, this time moving the camera up and down, rather than the lens in and out. I quite like the experimental images and they add something different to the photographs I have created so far, but they don't have the softness and ethereal feel to them as much as some of my other photographs.
After visiting the forest at different times of day it inspired me to create some poems as a automatic and reflective response. My writing either comes during my time in the forest and I make notes on my phone, or before I go to sleep I often write reflecting on the day.
I keep the poems short and sharp with very few words, this leaves the poems open for interpretation whilst still giving enough to the viewer or reader. Each poem aims to tell the story of the forest and the feelings felt either by myself or if the forest had a voice.
My 1-2-1 this week felt clearer in terms of where my project is heading. I had created some images which can be seen below to show the photographs alongside the text. Although they work well, WM suggested linking it more to Edith Pretty in terms of the text. We discussed the book telling Edith's story to begin with before moving onto my own experiences of Sutton, looking at the spiritual side and connecting to the land. We discussed the intent of my project and I opened up about why this area of Sutton is significant. I revisited Sutton Heath for the first time at the start of my MA whilst looking for areas of research and study. I didn't feel ready to explore it fully so kept it as a side project although themes did cross over into other modules.
My initial relationship with the Heath was an escape, an escape from a toxic relationship. I would walk over there with my two dogs and feel a sense of calm and belonging, I could spend hours there away from the chaos. I felt as though the forest gave me strength. I watched it go through the seasons, losing its leaves, regrowing and withstanding some horrid wings and rain, but it always came back fighting and even more beautiful. It altered in some way and even when the trees fell they became part of the forest again embedding themselves in the ground.
Watching and experiencing the forest gave me the strength to leave the toxic relationship and revisiting the space at the start of my MA felt like a release. I was back where I belonged having been afraid to step back in there, but it wasn't a place to be afraid of, it is a place to become lost, to be come grounded, to meditate and forest bathe. This is what started my journey for FMP, these feelings and wanting to understand the forest, understand what it was saying to me, and doing for me.
Having discussed this with WM, we agreed I was creating psychological portraits and trying to find answers within the landscape. I was using nature as a way to heal, work through a type of grief, and find myself again.
I decided to get a new medium format camera to experiment further with the development of my images. I shot the images using Rollei Retro 400s. The images are slightly out of focus due to the limited focus on the camera and shutter speeds being 50 or bulb. However I like the eery feeling they have achieved which link the previous forest at dawn photographs.
It is though the images are leaving a trace, or a memory. Capturing the trees in a more ghostly way focusing purely on their silhouettes.
I photographed the forest at the same time as the previous medium format images, with a 35mm Retro Rollei 400s film. The style of the black and white images are soft yet high in contrast and work well with the type of style I am aiming to produce. The black and white photographs below are my favourite details of the forest so far. They are ethereal and gentle, yet striking. I'd like to use these images to experiment further, creating cyanotypes, lumen and liquid light prints.
During this week I have been experimenting with creating images onto physical objects collected from the forest. My aim at the start of this project was to always experiment with printing onto different surfaces or using the elements of the forest to develop or create images. I gathered some of the silver birch logs and began to peel off the bark, hoping to create large sections to print. However the bark didn't peel as smoothly as I had hoped so I decided to stick the various pieces onto watercolour paper.
As a peels the bark, I noticed some areas came off the log like tracing paper, so I decided to experiment with sticking these to tracing paper to keep the translucent effect. The slight problem I experienced with the tracing paper and liquid light, was that it didn't stay on the paper as well as the watercolour.
I also experimented with creating a leaf photogram as I had done previously but this did not turn out well. I chose to turn the images into black and white to minimise some of the yellow tint, but the character of the silver birch got lost. I think I prefer the colouring the of originals and feel these would compliment my afternoon Heath (alter) images.
Whilst peeling the bark to create some flat prints using liquid light, I had an idea to slice the log into pieces and try to print onto the heartwood of the silver birch. I took the pieces of wood down to design technology in my school and asked if they could cut them smoothly.
I decided it was best to use a harder this time as the tracing paper prints had already not turned out well enough as it was unable to hold. The harder would then ensure the photographs wouldn't slide off the heartwood whilst going through each of the chemicals.
These pieces turned out well to my surprise, and although when photograph flat they look slightly odd, they are objects which could be returned to the forest, or better yet found in the forest through excavation. I chose to use the black and white film photographs as they were high in contrast which through my research works best for liquid light prints. After producing these as an experiment I'd like to create a series, using a variety of images from this project.
During this week I watched the 'documentary' on Sutton Hoo. Although it was great to watch, for me it didn't tell enough of Edith's story. The morning after I decided to get up early and visit the village of Sutton and the church where Edith and her husband Franks ashes were buried.
I chose to visit here to try and get a closer feeling to Edith, to try and link more closely to her and her story into spiritualism. The book on Edith's life only has one page dedicated to her journey into spiritualism, but what it does tell you is enough to know she felt, a lot, and listened to these feelings which then became a reality.
I photographed the church and surrounding trees and tried to connect to Edith's energy. I then went onto Sutton Heath where I decided to produce some self portraits. This was the first time since my degree I confident enough to explore self portraits again. I used the energy I had felt that morning in the church yard to produce a series of self portraits, linking to Edith and my journey within the forest.
My 1-2-1 with WM this week was very much discussing how my project was going to look in terms of outcomes and artefacts, and discussing the FMP document. We discussed how my exhibition was probably going to be postponed due to Covid but there was a possibility of having a window display of my work so to create a mock up of the exhibition. WM liked the liquid light prints and suggested these would be a good way to break up the tree photographs in the book I am aiming to produce. WM suggested to create more liquid light prints as they worked well as remains of the forest, linking back to Edith's story and the excavation. The title of the project was also discussed as I had settled on 'Walk in the Footsteps' due to the experience at the Sutton Hoo estate, WM suggested adding a sub heading such as 'the legacy of Edith Pretty'.
I decided to go into the forest to try and gather more silver birch pieces to print onto, as the peeling of the logs hadn't worked previously I waited for after a rainy day to visit the forest, knowing that the bark would be loose. Within the section of forest I visit there is a smaller den and a circle of logs where others have gathered. The logs are beginning to rot and therefore the perfect logs to peel off the birch bark. I aimed to peel it off in one piece as much as I could and flattened it as soon as I returned home, otherwise it would curl making it harder to print onto. My aim is to produce some liquid light prints straight onto the bark producing some artefacts which could have been found in the forest, or when displayed in a gallery look as though they have been.
Photography by Alexander Ward
Whilst in the forest that day I also took some expired black and white polaroids. My aim with shooting different films is to try and convey different emotions and stories from the forest. I knew when shooting the film they wouldn't come out perfect, however I didn't anticipate that the colouring of the black and white would turn more sepia. I experimented with editing the polaroids into black and white but feel they work better with my previous work in the sepia tone due to the prints onto silver birch and often warm tones. Within the polaroids you can see where the ink had been pushed through the three sections giving various tones to the image, and sometimes not reaching the top edge of the polaroid. I enjoyed experimenting with these as they were unpredictable in their outcome and produced a new type of image for this project.
After spending some time in the forest I decided to revisit some of my images using liquid light. Partly because I wanted to try and perfect the process before printing more silver birch heartwood and bark and partly because sometimes I want to push my images further and produce photographs with a handmade quality to them.
I chose to use a wide variety of images from the project so far, from archival images of Edith, to film photograph and text.
For watercolour paper liquid light prints I didn't need to use a hardener as the images stay on the paper well, however if left in any of the chemicals for too long the liquid light will start to peel. I chose images with a high contrast but also added a grade 5 to make sure the prints would come out clear. I've found that if the images aren't high in contrast they come out as purely grey flat images so it's also best to expose for longer and up the contrast where I can.
I've always liked the texture to the liquid light prints on watercolour paper and the brush strokes you can see, giving the images a quality. Although I am hoping to produce these prints onto bark and heartwood, some of these could work well in the book to break up the tree photographs and add a different style and approach.
The photograph of Edith I think works well in comparison to my initial oval image. This image looks as though it has been found with the unfinished edges which works with the feeling of object and artefacts being found within the forest.
My project at the moment has very much become about the process and experiments. After producing my initial liquid light prints on silver birch, it has been a process to perfect these.
This week I spent my time in the darkroom, research and experimenting. I gathered the heartwood, bark and a piece of handmade paper to try out liquid light printing. However, the first few on heartwood didn't work well at all. This was because they had been cut differently with slight ridges rather than smooth. When exposing the image onto them I noticed the liquid light had gathered in the ridges causing an uneven and sometimes not existent print. The heartwood which had been cut smooth, worked perfectly!
Whilst creating these in the darkroom I decided before hand to produce some cyanotypes and sun/lumen prints using the same images. The cyanotypes I thought would compliment the forest at dawn images and the lumen prints may add a different look and therefore style breaking up some fo the other photographs.
I had decided on the images for these as again they were high in contrast and some of the best images of the forest so far. It was an extremely sunny day so the cyanotypes didn't need very long and were actually slightly over exposed as I spent my time in the darkroom producing the liquid light prints.
The sun/lumen prints needed longer, so once I had completed the liquid light prints in the darkroom I carefully took them home and continued to expose them. I was pleased with both outcomes but they lacked the handmade feel I had hoped for once scanned.
This cyanotype was created using handmade paper from a friend Maria who is an artist and educator. Maria produced natural prints onto fabric and other materials and is often looking for ways to produce natural papers, inks, fabrics, etc.
Maria gifted me a series of handmade paper, made from various trees. I experimented with the liquid light but because the paper was so fragile it couldn't quite pick up the print and washed off some of the liquid light through the developing process.
The cyanotype however worked really well. At first when washing off the chemicals it looked as though the print has disappeared, but because the paper is so absorbent the image got lost. Once the paper had dried the image reappeared.
The handmade quality to the edges of the paper and the various tones showing the key pieces of detail from the silver birch tree are what I am most pleased with. Although I may run out of time during this project, I'd like to experiment with making handmade paper from silver birch in the future.
The final technique I experimented with this week was using the birch bark and printing film photographs using liquid light. The image to the right is a close up of the tree photograph printed onto the bark. This was my first attempt and although I wasn't thrilled with the outcome it was a start. Looking at the bark I used it was very lumpy and didn't have many flat areas, the areas which were flat you can see the print best. The other problem was the dark areas of the bark so moving forward I am going to consider bleaching the bark to get a clearer, more defined print.
I revisited the birch bark and tried to initially bleach it, however all this did was make the wood brittle and although did lighten it slightly, it still wasn't enough. I decided to try using a light layer of white acrylic paint to give the bark a clear surface. Some birch bark is bright white, but where these have come out of the forest and left to dry, they've become much darker over time.
Painting the bark seemed to work well, I was worried you'd be able to see the paint underneath but by the time the print had been through the developing process you could no longer recognise the paint.
Although the image came out much clearer I am still not fully happy with the result and feel I still need a flatter, smoother and slightly thinner pieces of bark.
I photographed the bark on a black background because I thought this would make it stand out, however I think I'm going to try photograph it on a white background similar to the heartwood as this worked well and gave the images a sense of importance.
This week I also produced more liquid light prints on heartwood. Having had a bad batch with ridges on the last lost, I decided to produce larger prints making sure each side was as smooth as possible. I got the heartwood cut slightly thicker making them more solid objects as previous experiments the bark started to peel away.
I scanned each of the pieces and although they are clear and work well, as they are going to form part of the book I feel they will work best if they are photographed in a similar way to Almudena Romero's Chlorophyll prints.
My 1-2-1 this week made everything in my project clearer, I showed WM my book plans and discussed how it didn't feel right or work well. I had a portfolio review with Anna Dannemann through The Photographers Gallery and this made me think more carefully about what I am trying to say with my images and the project. I think my focus got lost on trying to telling Edith's story rather than my own. AD suggested losing the Edith imagery and keeping the poems alongside my work and tell my journey into spiritualism and healing.
Once discussing this with WM and looking through the book pages, we agreed to keep a coherent colour theme throughout but maybe to explore some of the colour images and see how they work together. WM suggested looking into a range of contextual resources to help with the final push and my critical review. It became clearer that the project was not about Edith, but just using her as a research point and in fact the project is about creating a similar experience for the viewer as to the one I did, and do when in the forest.
The two images above I shot during the week experimenting with the bark. I decided to take my Diana F and shoot a Fujicolor 120 film. I wanted to again try to produce some different style images and look at the forest differently. Although the photographs are all of the same place, I want them to convey different feelings and tell different stories. I shot a roll of 12 images, but these were the only two which I felt were successful.
As well this week I have been out shooting more details of the forest, now my intent for the project feels clearer I have wanted to revisit the forest producing new imagery with a clear intent and purpose.
Photograph by Mark Coventry
This week I revisited the silver birch bark prints using liquid light. I chose to flatten and bleach the bark before giving each piece a think coat of white acrylic. I experimented with two smaller test pieces first and the outcomes were much clearer, the only issue I experienced was when the bark started to curl so I decided to flatten it further with some glass before exposure.
When drying each piece began to curl so I carefully placed them under some books once the liquid light was dry on each piece. I am pleased with how they have turned out because they still have the curls of the bark and character yet an image of silver birch imprinted giving them a new life.
Also this week I finally, after quite a delay received my self portrait film photographs. Although quite grainy I like the feeling these images have. Similar to the artefacts I've been producing they have more of a handmade quality to them with imperfections, unlike the digital versions. They are also a lot lighter which I feel works better with the other images I've produced so far, including the liquid light prints.
Along with the self portrait film I also received back another 120 film I shot using the Retro Rollei 400s. This time it was a brighter day with a lot less leaves on the trees producing very delicate images. The film was shot using my Franka Solida Record camera which only has 1/50 or bulb shutter speed with limited focusing. This produces images which are sometimes unclear and out of focus, but this is what I adore about the camera, I am never sure how the forest is going to be captured, and hope to produce some delicate and unusual images like the one you see here. This is the only what I feel, good image from the contact sheet and provoked along with the self portraits more automatic poems which can be found below. These poems each focus more on the feelings I felt within the forest but still leaving enough room for interpretation from the viewer/reader.
During this week I started to gather my images so far and begin to finalise and record. After looking at the work of Almudena Romero I chose to photograph my bark pieces as though they were precious museum artefacts. I wanted to make sure you could see the 3D details of the bark and clearly see the film photograph printed, these will form part of my book breaking up the tree images and adding in the natural golden colours to the book.
I received back the film I shot during week 18, focusing more on the details and what I deem as the important parts of the forest. The moss covered mounds have become an obsession and an area of the forest which feels magical to me. I often imagine small fairies dancing amongst the moss, or see the moss moving the in wind ever so slightly creating a surreal view. The mounds have become an important part of this project, as well as the continuous view of the portal into the forest. For me these images capture the enchanted forest, they are the type of images I'd been aiming produce throughout this project.