The year of no Bonfire

The year of no Bonfire

The last time there were no Bonfire celebrations in Lewes, it was 1960 and the town had just been severely flooded. It is not surprising that this year the event has been cancelled because of Covid-19. Even so, a week away from the 5th of November, it is hard to imagine there being no riotous, anarchic revelry.

Over the past months I have been working on a collection of Bonfire portraits, laboriously hand-printing them as cyanotypes. When I learned there would be no festivities on the 5th, I set up a pop-up exhibit of the photographs in a lovely old shopfront along the procession route. I thought of it as a tribute to the celebration that couldn’t be celebrated.

I have also published a collection of these portraits as a book. This week’s photo is the last image in the book – the goodbye shot of Smugglers marching down the hill wielding torches and flaming barrels.

An online version of the book can be found here. If you are interested in buying a copy, contact me here.

Please also head over to The Grain Store Blog. I had the pleasure of being interviewed about this project for a lovely blog post written by Katherine Murphy.

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.

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.

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