Updated: Jan 19
with Hannah Fletcher
Hannah Fletcher is an artist, photographer, and innovator of sustainable alternative photographic practices. Hannah is a co-director of the London Alternative Photography Collective, and founder of The Sustainable Darkroom which recently completed a year long project to create a completely sustainable photographic garden. Here at Alternative Processes we found the ethos of rejecting historically toxic methods in photography to aid in the protection of the natural world really inspiring, and have invited Hannah to tell us more about it.
Circles: Made by Many Hands: A Botanical Photo Lab, made in collaboration with Alice Cazenave Date: 2020
The anthotype process is usually what would spring to mind when talking about plants and analog photography. In your practice you push the boundaries of this, and use plant matter in unusual and creative ways. What has been the inspiration behind this experimentation in your practice? I’ve always been someone happy in nature, out exploring, and learning from what the earth has to offer. So i think a lot of it comes from observation and constant curiosity for the way the earth cycles. I rarely have sudden moments of inspiration, more like slow accumulations of looking, learning and thinking. I would say it’s both learning from and with our environment and this then leads to a fascination with the way in which natural materials can ‘image’ themselves. Whether that be a leaf leaching it’s tannins onto the pavement as commuters and passers-by pound it into the concrete. Or the rings of a tree recording environmental changes. Nature is a huge source of inspiration to me and I have always taken very hands on approach; seeing it as more than just subject matter but the physical object of the work too. The process I use intertwine the subject-object to be one and the same.
Title: Circles: Chemistries, The Sustainable Darkroom Jar image credit: Image by Jack Johnstone
What has been your favourite plant based process to work with, and why? Im going to answer this question at a bit of a different angle and say that one of my favourite actions that is part of many of my processes is foraging. Foraging is a way of gathering resources, of collecting ingredients and materials. By forging I know that I am using materials that grow in my local surroundings and environment. Through this act, I am also connecting directly and physically with those surroundings. This brings a greater awareness and duty of care to the land that surrounds me at that time, whether I am at home in London or elsewhere. Through forging I have learnt to identify plants more, (something that I still wish I was better at) but every year I notice my vocabulary and knowledge surrounding plans expanding. The further I begin to understand plants, their chemical composition and the chemistry of photography, the more I am able to integrate plants into my processes of making. So it becomes a positive feedback loop of foraging, learning, experimenting, learning foraging..etc
Title: Circles: A Record of Our Time
In 2019 you started ‘The Sustainable Darkroom’ which is at the forefront of a shift towards photographers reexamining their acceptance of unsustainability, and waste, in their practice. Could you tell us a bit more about this project, and what advice you would give to an artist looking to make more sustainable choices? You do not need to change your whole practice to have an impact. Think about changing one or 2 things whether that be a material, a system or waste output. For example, working with plants, we advocate that individuals work with what is local and abundant to them, rather than seeking out something specific and hard to get hold of in their part of the world. We aim to give individuals the knowledge and confidence to formulate a way of working that is relevant for them and the environment they exist in. It is not about following a set of rules or recipes, it is about finding your own wiggly and in-perfect route; one which is more harmonious with the environment around you.
Title: Circles: LAND SEAS SUN, made in collaboration with Alice Cazenave Date: 2022 What are your currently working on/do you have any exciting new projects you would like to share?
I am currently working on a new collection of work showcasing some of our research at The
Sustainable Darkroom for the opening of the Chappe Art Museum in Finland, which is due to open early next year.
For more resources, you can:
- Get hold of one of our latest books; resource via http://www.londonaltphoto.com/shop/
- Check out our solar powered website - https://sustainabledarkroom.com/
- Join our Patreon community - www.patreon.com/sustainabledarkroom
This September The Sustainable Darkroom celebrated the end of their one year
photographic garden residency, with a week of free workshops and the Photographic
Garden Symposium which you can watch on their YouTube Channel
Want to start making Anthotypes in your backyard? At Alternative Processes Academy we teach that + how to make a digital negative + 8 other processes (with a focus on unconventional printing surfaces).
hannahfletcher.com Author: Martha Gray