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.

New flood defence

New flood defence

This is Free Wharf, a large scale development that will bring 536 mixed tenure homes and commercial spaces to Shoreham Harbour over the next few years. I have been photographing the site for Southern Housing Group since July of last year. This shot is significant because it shows the new flood defence inside the rusty old sea wall running parallel to it.

The engineering required to build this is beyond my understanding, but I have been photographing the muddy, mucky, painstaking process over the past year and a half. I think that is why I particularly like this photograph.

The diagonal lines of the shot encompass the high tide of the mighty River Adur, the crumbly edge of the old flood defence, and the clean strong angles of the new construction. There is the added visual treat of the red-jacketed workman, the red fence, and that red crane off in the distance.

A selection of my photos of Free Wharf taken over the past 18 months can be found here. Information about Southern Housing Group and this development is here.

there is still time for Christmas orders!

What you can give…

  • Vouchers are available for the gift of a photography session
  • All photos from my website are available as archival Giclee prints on rag paper in a variety of sizes
  • Hand-printed cyanotypes from my collection
  • Lewes Bonfire Portraits book of cyanotypes
  • 11 Sun Street a photographic story of a Victorian terraced house in Lewes

Contact me to get further information on any of the above.

What happens when Ashcombe Windmill is cyanotype-d?

What happens when Ashcombe Windmill is cyanotype-d?

Welcome to Photo of the Week, here to brighten up your inbox. I hope you are all staying well during these difficult times.My cyanotype journey continues. After landscapesseascapes and portraits, I turned my attention to my love of architecture to see how this could translate into my new medium.

After much experimentation, once again I had some interesting discoveries. Many photos that I thought would work beautifully, just would not cooperate. But then sometimes I would get unexpected results that could turn the original digital photograph into something else entirely.

This is Ashcombe Windmill, perched on the Downs above Lewes. The tonal qualities bestowed on the photograph by the cyanotype and hand-printing processes have dropped it into another time and place.

I began to realise that one of the beauties (and frustrations) of cyanotype is the unexpected. There are so many variables to the process that I can never be fully in control of the end product. Sometimes that end product can feel like a gift.

As I mentioned last week, I am self-publishing a book of my cyanotype Bonfire portraits. It will be available for sale during my Artwave exhibit and also by mail order. More information is available here.

A large selection of this new work will be shown as part of the Lewes District Artwave Festival in a joint exhibit with artist Kelly Hall. You can find us at St Anne’s House, 111 High St, Lewes, BN7 1XY, opposite Shelley’s Hotel. We will be open the first three weekends in September, 11am-5pm. Please do come by and say hello!

You can find a selection of my cyanotypes here and learn how I create them here.

First photos ever taken of the Corn Exchange ceiling

First photos ever taken of the Corn Exchange ceiling

I am so pleased to be able to share this photograph I took of the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange in January. This is the apex of the magnificent vaulted roof. At a height of 34 ft (10.3m), this unsupported structure covers a space of 178 by 58 ft (54 by 17.6m), the widest span timber frame in the country. Legend has it that there were delays to the construction of the building 200 years ago because of the difficulty of finding large enough single spans of roof timber.

This ceiling has never been photographed up close because it has remained too difficult to get to – until now. The wooden platform shown here is laid across the top of the scaffolding birdcage that fills the open space of the Corn Exchange, giving access to the timbers for the first time in 200 years. This enables them to be examined and repaired – and photographed. Lucky me, I got to be the one for the job.

Many more of my photographs of the Corn Exchange restoration can be found here. You can read more about the progress of the work on the Brighton Dome website here.

House with a view

House with a view

Exactly two years ago I took my first shots of a disused agricultural building in a spectacular setting on the outskirts of Lewes. The interior of the Grain Store was so full of stuff that I had to wait until my second visit to get some inside photos.

I have been documenting this site ever since, watching the ambitious transformation into a beautiful house that makes the most of its surroundings. I always find it satisfying to complete a job like this, knowing intimately the building’s journey and how these new spaces have evolved.

The most extraordinary thing about this house is that it could not be more immersed in the South Downs. Tucked into a hollow, the windows look straight across to a green sloping hill that leads up to the South Downs Way. Seeing the finished and furnished spaces on my final shoot last week, I wanted to move into it, there and then. Actually, I could stay there if I wanted, as it is available as a holiday let. You can find more photos of this project here, and how to rent it here.

Please get in touch if you have a workplace, an event, a celebration, a portrait or a building project you would like to have photographed.

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