The dye paintings being considered inappropriate for the exhibition, I took a Field Maple leaf collected from outside Dartmoor prison and, in Photoshop, superimposed it on the paintings to make one per season. See also my website
I could have chosen this alternative but it would not have been as effective on the lace drape:
In the event, the 4 seasons’ prints changed from this:
to this for the exhibition:
How do I display the botanical paintings?
I had considered having 4 wall hangings of the seasonal dye paintings on which I would attach the relevant diptychs for the season:
So I would have had just 4 main images in the gallery. There was nothing wrong with the idea. In practice, they looked cluttered and confusing and did not reference the letters directly at all.
The dye paintings created confusion and referred obliquely to the time / place binary concept of the project.
The last botanical dye painting for 2019
The collection is now complete: I have the Spring collection of botanicals which closes the circle of the seasons for my prison project “One Year”.
I collected the plant samples last Tuesday outside HMP Dartmoor, put them in plastic bags and then photographed all the different plants:
Initially, I photographed them against a black backdrop which was quite dramatic:
Then I realised it would not be in keeping with the other seasons’ images so I had to replace the black with white:
They both have their charms. It took for ever to change all the backgrounds.
Then came the stewing which I was dreading because the last time I did this in the Winter, the whole house had the foul smell of forest-floor brews for days. This time, however, there was a really lovely, fresh smell emanating from the kitchen & I realised that the only remarkable difference was that this time there were stinging nettle branches in the mix. It has made me go & forage for some more samples & see if I can make some freshly-brewed tea!
The mix boiled for ages, partly because I had forgotten about it, and then I let it go cold so that I could blend it & make my traditional blobs with it and then photograph them.
When I was blending the mix, I realised that the pine cones would not oblige so I had to pull them out:
The resulting blobs, made with my smartphone, threw up a pretty consistent dye colour on cartridge paper:
I am glad I have now finished the seasonal blobs and that they have turned out so well. The blobs too have come out quite well in terms of changing colours brought about by the different botanicals available at different times of the year.
I am always surprised that I try to make sense of my photographed blobs rather than just accept them as photographic evidence of my research into a place in time / time in a place. For example, the image below to me looks remarkably like a rabbit. I have very primitive print-making skills which means that my visual perception does not allow me to imaging how to put down a ‘blob’ so that when it is seen on a printed surface, it is a back-to-front version of the blob. For that reason, and because, as a result of my experience with printed rather than a digital photograph, I love print making, I am starting a printmaking course in Cornwall in October!!
Playing with natural elements
These experiments lead on from an OCA study weekend in London at Phytology and the SLBI reported here.
Tracing the passage of time through natural elements is part of my One Year project. In the first iteration of the project , time through leaves was not connecting to the letter content in that the letters were written at specific times in the year but the leaf/bract material accompanying them was static. In experimenting with natural materials found at different times of the year, I am trying to give the project content more coherence and cohesion.
The singular leaf or feather or chestnut or seed pod images underline the experience of being an individual going through time in prison. The combination stresses the idea that you are an individual amongst others doing time.