Artist/Teacher Readymades

A significant part of my reflection over the last few years has been about the relationship between my Artist and Teacher identities and how I make links and find modes of intersection between them and this work explores that discourse.

I have worked with the cyanotype process in many ways but I am drawn particularly to the fact that it was primarily a (photogram) contact process (although it is now often used with digital negatives too). I remember going to the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford and seeing an original copy of Anne Atkins cyanotype book on British Algae and realising I was in the presence of an object that had been handled by her but also the papers must have travelled around with her, been to the places she had been and had been in contact with the samples she had collected before being assembled into book form. The pages had a history all of their own.

This fact, that the image on the paper directly references and represents the object placed there, in contact with the paper, that physicality, the print as a point of contact between the referred and the referent is a tangible one, the object clearly and undeniable present but also representing all the other elements of contact and place as well.

 

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In this series of works the sheets are made by my students coating materials with cyanotype chemistry in preparation for making their own images, the edges of the paper marked out, layered in time, sometimes over a few days, sometimes weeks. Their presence, their marks made in the process of creativity, their sharing of space and materials are present in these works, poetic epitaphs, archeological documents. They tell a narrative story of the teacher student relationship, I layout the sheets, tape them in place, mix the chemistry, set out the brushes, demonstrate the process. The students work, tentatively at first, then more boldly, exploring different materials and combinations of objects and ideas they can express. And they move on having explored, learned, developed and this is what they leave behind, their footprints in the sand.