Remember, remember, it’s the 5th of November

Remember, remember, it’s the 5th of November

So, here we are at the 5th of November again. After last year, when the famous Lewes Bonfire celebrations were cancelled because of covid, this time it is all systems go. I am writing this on the night before and we have been hearing bangers and fireworks all evening long.

For those of you who do not live in Lewes, the town is woken at 6am on the morning of the 5th by the firing of a cannon up by the castle. From there on in, the excitement builds, culminating in the evening Grand Procession through the centre of town.

This is followed by six separate bonfires and extravagant firework displays hosted by each of the town’s bonfire societies. The revelries last long into the night.

I am not even going to try to summarise all that happens in this small town on the 5th of November. Instead of words, I give you a cyanotype: a bonfire in flames topped by an eery burning effigy.

I have a book of 45 of my book of hand-printed cyanotype Bonfire Portraits which is available to buy. You can find out more about it here.

I am still hard at work binding more copies of my latest book sea shore. It is a collection of 29 of my landscape cyanotypes and two poems written by Sara London. If you are interested in buying a copy, you can 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.

shelter from the storm

Shelter from the storm

I have been hard at work planning my book of hand-printed cyanotypes that explore that restless space between land and sea. It will be published as a hand-bound, limited-edition book sea|shore and will be available at my Artwave exhibit in September or by pre-ordering. More details here.

My photo this week is taken from my new book. This image was one of the first cyanotypes I worked on when I began experimenting with this new medium last year.

Although the photograph was taken in the aftermath of a fierce winter storm, and huge waves were still crashing on the far side of the breakwater, the sheltering arm of the pier protected the safety of the harbour. There is something about this image that I find deeply reassuring. I have had it on my office wall since I first printed it.

If you would like information about pre-ordering my book please get in touch. All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Information about purchasing my prints and books can be found here.

Stormy cyanotype seas

Stormy cyanotype seas

As the days brighten and lengthen, I have had renewed energy to focus on new projects, so I am pushing ahead with my book of sea and shore cyanotypes. My ideas are finally crystallising around how the book will work. I will keep you posted on how it goes and when it will become available.

Making cyanotypes is a rather lengthy process. Printing out my negatives onto acetate film takes about half an hour each. I make a contact print by placing the acetate over paper that I have coated with cyanotype solution which is then exposed to ultraviolet light for around 40 minutes. After the print has been washed in water, I leave it to dry in sunlight, which helps to deepen and enrich the tones.

This print is one of my favourites. It feels to me like it comes from another era, although it was taken 18 months ago just down the road in the industrial setting of Newhaven harbour. The ominous force of that wave against the pier brings to my mind seafaring exploits of past centuries, and the terrible storms and deadly shipwrecks associated with them.

All my hand-printed cyanotypes are available to buy. Get in touch for more information. You can find more of my cyanotypes here, and my book of Lewes Bonfire cyanotypes 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.

Extending the hand of friendship

Extending the hand of friendship

We have finally had truly cold weather in Lewes and a light dusting of snow that has changed the contours of the hills and highlighted the furrows of the ploughed fields. The first day it snowed, it began while I was out walking, and the higher I got on the Downs the more there was of it. I came onto an exposed sweep of land and there, in the middle of it, was a bouquet of roses scattered on the ground. The pale yellow of the blooms and their green leaves were a startling sight, surrounded as they were by a monochromatic landscape of white snow, grey sky and dark shrubs.

I learned afterwards that yellow roses are a symbol of friendship, though there was no indication of why they had been left in this isolated spot.

A friend suggested that perhaps they had been placed here as a caring message, reaching out to whoever came across them.

I like that idea. Friendship in its many forms is something we all need during this time of isolation and social distance.

You can find more of my landscape photographs here.

Where land meets sea

Where land meets sea

I have to admit that work is a tad slower than I would have liked during this third and open-ended lockdown. To keep myself busy, I have been working with my hand-printed cyanotypes again. This shot was taken at sunrise on Cape Cod during my visit last October.

I am making plans for two more cyanotype books. (My first one, about Lewes Bonfire, can be found here). One book will be photographs of the sea – mostly stormy.

The other will be photos of the plants, sand and rocks to be found where land meets sea. I will be binding them myself as limited editions. I am still working on exactly how I will do this – I’ll keep you posted! More of my cyanotypes are 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.

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.

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