White Shadows

 

Cyanotypes

 

Inspired by the flickering shadows on my studio walls and the first photographs by William Henry Fox-Talbot and his idea of “fixing a shadow” - the basic concept on which photography was invented - I decided to go camera-less and began working with the cyanotype process to make photograms. 

The cyanotype was invented in 1842 in England by Sir John Herschel—a scientist, friend and collaborator of Fox-Talbot’s. Cyanotype is a photographic process in which light sensitive iron salts are coated onto paper and then exposed to ultraviolet light. A photogram is a contact printing process in which objects are placed directly on or in very close proximity to the coated paper, the light passes through the object, thus rendering a shadow of the object. They aren’t pictures of a shadow, they are the shadow—a shadow fixed forever on paper. 

This work is the result of exploring the boundaries and limitations of a process that spans the history of photography. In this still-life series I make connections between history, tradition and our contemporary world in which we are bombarded by images, while at the same time building on a theme that I have been exploring through my work for many years, that of questioning the perceived reality inherent in a photograph and it’s connection to the elusive and ethereal nature of imagination and memory. 

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© 2017 BY PAMELA ELLIS HAWKES / WEBSITE BY ENGENUITY.MEDIA