A very rewarding photo of the week

A very rewarding photo of the week

This is the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange on my very first site visit. I had never been inside the building before and was overwhelmed by the sheer size and beauty of this interior space. It was a very hot June day and afternoon sunlight was streaming in through the huge iconic west-facing windows.

It is that figure, dead centre and running in the shaft of light, that always gets me. He looks so tiny, giving perspective to the enormity of the room.

The special reason for sharing this cyanotype today is that it is being offered as a reward for a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange.

The Brighton Dome need to raise funds urgently as they are still recovering from the impact of covid, plus facing huge increases in energy costs and inflation.They do so much to support the arts and are an invaluable part of their community: “We employ 130 full-time equivalent permanent staff, 200 casual workers, around 100 freelance artists and creative workers and 131 volunteers, and have a duty, as custodians of these spaces, and a commitment to the artists we support.” I am one of those 100 freelance artists.

I have three different cyanotypes of the Corn Exchange refurbishment being offered at a variety of levels, from greeting cards, to reproduction prints, to signed, hand-printed originals.

Please do check out the link and give generously if you are able.

Here it is, my 200th photo of the week

Here it is, my 200th photo of the week

I sent out my very first photo of the week back in the summer of 2015. At the time I could never have imagined all the interesting avenues down which my work would take me.

This week I give you a beautiful stained glass window from Southover Grange that is nearly 450 years old. A few years ago I recorded the renovation of this magnificent Elizabethan manor in the centre of Lewes for its owners, East Sussex County Council. My photographs of the restoration can be found here.

My original digital photograph shows the subtle colours of the ancient stained glass. You can see it here. I find it interesting the way in which printing this image as a cyanotype changes how we read it. In monochrome, the patterns of light have a feeling of solidity and an almost watery sense of depth.

I will be showing this print, along with a selection of other architectural and landscape cyanotypes, next Friday and Saturday at the annual Artists and Makers Christmas Fair in Lewes Town Hall.

Along with original prints, I will be selling my books (sea shore, Lewes Bonfire Portraits and 11 Sun Street, Lewes) and greeting cards of my cyanotypes of both landscapes and local architecture. Please come and say hello if you are in the area.

If you cannot make it to the fair, you can always order prints from me directly and buy any of my books from my website. It is not too late to order for Christmas. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. I have many more than are on my website so get in touch if you would like to know more. Information about purchasing my prints and all of my photography books can be found here.

In search of the cyanotype zing

In search of the cyanotype zing

In preparation for my Artwave show I have been playing around with my archive of architecture projects, experimenting with which images work as cyanotypes. As always with this medium, it is not a clear translation from one type of photograph to another. It isn’t even as straight forward as making a picture monochromatic. I have spent the past year and a half pondering the secret ingredient that makes some images fall flat as cyanotypes, and makes others zing and I still can’t always put my finger on it.

This photograph is from my project documenting the construction of the Depot Cinema in Lewes – a project that I loved. You might be surprised to know that this was taken a mere two months before the Depot opened to the public. In this shot, I think it is the drama of the light, the sharp angles, and the silhouetted figure right in the middle, that translate well into the high contrast of a cyanotype.

A large print of this photograph is on display at my Artwave show. I will be showing again this year with artist Kelly Hall. You can find us at venue 91, St Anne’s House, 111 High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XY (across the street from Shelley’s). We will be open the 18, 19, 25 and 26 September, 11am-5pm.

My new book sea shore will be available to buy at my exhibit as well. It is a collection of 29 of my landscape cyanotypes and two poems written by Sara London. I am currently in the process of hand binding this limited first edition. If you are interested in buying a copy, you can pre-order directly from my website.

All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and all of my photography books can be found here.

Please contact me if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

Bringing New England to Old England

Bringing New England to Old England

I will be showing this cyanotype of a church that is just a short walk from my home on Cape Cod, in order to bring a touch of New England to my East Sussex Artwave exhibit. Built in 1827, it is a handsome white clapboard Greek Revival building and the oldest church in our tiny town of Truro.

I have been experimenting with ways of printing my cyanotypes at larger sizes than the 30x40cm that most of them have been so far. One method is my multi-panelled prints. This works well for landscapes and organic, textured closeups, but doesn’t feel right for architectural photos.

The enlargement process is complicated by the fact that I need a structure to suspend several ultraviolet lights over my plates while at the same time giving an even exposure. I have finally figured out a way to manage this so that I can print up to 40x60cm.

This photo of the Truro Congregational Church is one of the first prints I made at this larger size. Of course you can’t tell from the scan that it is larger, but take my word for it, it looks great!

As I mentioned last time, I will be launching my new book sea shore at our Artwave show and will be exhibiting landscape images from the book, as well as showing a range of cyanotypes from my architectural documentary projects.

If you are in the Lewes area over the last three weekends in September, I hope you can stop by. I will be exhibiting with the painter Kelly Hall again this year and you can find us at St Anne’s House, 111 High St, Lewes, BN7 1XY. Opening hours are 11-5. You can find information about my new book here, and can contact me if you would like to pre-order one. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and books can be found here.

Loosening the anchor of time and space

Loosening the anchor of time and space

Last time I wrote about using cyanotype with landscape and seascape photographs. This week I wanted to share with you my experiments using the technique with architectural photographs.

Trying to visualise how a digital photograph will translate as a hand-printed cyanotype is not straight forward. As I mentioned in my last post, it is such long process getting from the beginning to the end result that I need to have a pretty good idea whether a photo will work.

There is always the element of surprise, though. Photos that I feel sure of can fall flat, and ones that seem like a long shot can be bang on the money.

Using the technique with architectural photography is an interesting shift away from the organic forms of landscapes. I have been working on this idea for some time and wanted to try focussing on a unified group of photographs taken from a single project.

My recent shoot of Madeira Terrace in Brighton seemed a good place to start. This photograph was taken from the upper level terraces looking down onto the green copper roof of the Concorde 2 nightclub.

There is something about the cyanotype process that can remove the anchor of time and space from an image, highlighting instead the shape, texture and light of the composition. That is an exciting dynamic to be working with.

The magnificent Madeira Terrace of Brighton

The magnificent Madeira Terrace of Brighton

I have a treat for you today, taking you from one iconic Brighton building last time to another one this week. This is a view of the upper level and lift tower of Madeira Terrace, the spectacular 865m-long Victorian covered walkway that lines the seafront at Madeira Drive in Brighton.

Built at the end of the 19th century, according to Historic England this Grade II* structure is “very rare being the only known, land-based, monumentally-scaled, iron promenade in England, and possibly worldwide; although converted to electric power, the three-stage lift is an early and rare example of a hydraulic, water-powered lift in a seaside location”. To top it all, this is also the location of the oldest and longest green wall in the UK. The cliff face was planted with Japanese Spindle trees 20 years before the terrace was built. The trees continue to thrive 150 years later.

In 2012 Madeira Terrace was closed to the public because it had become unsafe. Brighton and Hove Council have now secured funding for an ambitious renovation project, working in partnership with the local community, to “restore the arches and create a new sustainable leisure, social and business space sensitive to the terraces original design”. Please have a look at the Council’s plans here. They are very exciting.

I have been drafted in to document the restoration, starting with the site as it stands now. It was with a keen pleasure that I headed behind the fencing to the deserted terraces, with the sweeping sea views all to myself. In these closed-off areas, it was interesting to notice how the balance between human structure and nature was leaning towards greenery and wildlife. You can find a selection of photos from my first shoot here.

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