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.

Dulverton Laundry, Somerset, 1992

Dulverton Laundry, Somerset, 1992

Here is a change of pace for you, after those monumental Brighton buildings. This photograph is from a documentary series shot in Somerset in the early 1990s.

Dulverton Laundry was, at the time, the main employer in a remote town on the edge of Exmoor National Park, and provided the surrounding area with laundry and dry cleaning services.

The laundry was housed in an interesting structure that represented an early example of industrial building, and was originally water-powered by the leat that ran beneath it.

By far the most interesting aspect of my several trips to the laundry were the employees. Alongside an obvious pride in their work, I remember a sense of people having worked together for years, and the banter and camaraderie that this engendered.

The building has been preserved because of its Grade II listing, but the business closed three years ago, with the loss of 22 jobs. The closure of a local business like this hurts the community on so many levels.

Photographs of the laundry can be found here and more photos of other work environments are here.

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.

The ultimate fish story

The ultimate fish story

Many years ago, before I moved to England, I lived in the little costal town of Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. This photograph is from that time and the scene it captures is the stuff of legends.

That is a prized bluefin tuna that had wandered inadvertently into the harbour and was spotted from shore. A little boat was rowed out to it and an epic battle ensued between man (actually two men) and beast that lasted hours. Eventually beast tired before man and it got dragged slowly to shore. You can see here that it is still alive and thrashing crazily.

I wish I could recall how much the tuna sold for. As I remember, it went to buyers in Japan and the amount seemed astronomical at the time. But it was the story of the heroic struggle in the harbour that we all dined out on for weeks – for years even.

You can find more of my photographs of people doing interesting things 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.

Playing in the snow

Playing in the snow

I hope you are all staying well and sane during these difficult times. To lighten the mood, I thought I would share with you a band promo shot from a few years back – well, eight to be exact. This was not how I had expected the shoot with Small Shipwrecks to go, but snow was falling and we couldn’t resist the temptation to be in it.

Outside was just gorgeous, made more special by the fact that it is so rare for us to get snow in Lewes. I am a New England gal and I do miss the cold white winters of my youth. Once we had set up outside, everyone relaxed into the novelty and joy of playing music in falling snow, and I got my shot. You can find more of my portraiture 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.

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