Your large-scale cyanotype artworks, such as Negative Mass, are site-specific
installations that engage with the environment. Could you elaborate on the
significance of creating these artworks in specific locations and how they interact
with their surroundings?
I was interested in making work that connected to the landscape itself reflecting its
unique qualities and that goes beyond the expected landscape image. I really enjoy
projects when I can’t imagine the end result, and so I started to imagine what it would be
like to touch a glacier - what does it feel like? And what would be like to connect with its
surface? How would I do this photographically? Within this in mind I decided to use
cyanotypes, a 19th century photographic process, however these images would be
made through a cameraless process known as the photogram. So it all began with the
idea of touching a landscape – in this case ice/water.
What is fascinating is how the cyanotype records the environmental conditions over an
extended time period. Not only are they impacted by what they are in connection with
(usually ice or water) but the weather/sun also effects their development. The piece
‘Fieldwork’ has a white spot that turned up immediately and was because of a chemical
residue on the roadside. The work ‘Negative Mass’ changed a lot of the 3 day period
due to it raining and this gave it a velvety texture in places. It also has a foot print where
someone stood on the work while it was exposing. ‘Ice Field’ was a direct reaction to the
shapes and forms of the glacier but also was dependent on the water dripping for its
surface. Some details you get so excited about as you start to see them form but then
they disappear – it is all a part of the process.
on the left: Negative Mass, (2019) on the right: Fieldwork
I would love to talk about the process itself, working with large coated
cyanotype fabrics must present unique challenges. Could you share some
insights into the process of managing and handling such large-scale materials
during the creation of your artworks? As well as the challenges posed by the fact
that cyanotype is photo-sensitive and exposes in a relatively fast timeframe.
For ‘Negative Mass’ we ended up using my brothers garage and making it somewhat of
a darkroom by tapping up the windows. I purchase the raw chemistry, mix it up by the
litre then layer up the fabric on the floor and paint it on using brushes. You can’t soak the
material as this would take to much cyanotype liquid and it would take too long to dry. I
always try a twist out any excess chemicals onto the next one. I had a team of 5 working
with me to coat the fabric totalling 113 meters – it was an extremely time consuming
process. I then use heaters and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.
At the start I was concerned with the fast exposure time of the cyanotype but I found that
when they are exposing in the environment for such extended periods of time it does
really matter. They are going to change over time and it is more about what they are in
Installing your fabric-based cyanotype artworks in public spaces creates a
distinct viewing experience for the audience. How do you approach the
installation process to ensure the desired impact and engagement with the
It all depends on the site where it is being exhibited and adapting it to architecture of that
space. I work at quite a large scale as I want these works to echo the environment in
which they are made. I think carefully about how the audience will encounter the work
and how the installation can be effectively employed to enhance the concept.
For example, after being washed and dried, ‘Negative Mass’ was installed in the atrium,
60m from where it was created. The fabric was divided into three smaller low
hanging bows that falls from an interior bridge and raises toward the large atrium wall.
This shape echo’s the downward curve of a glacial equilibrium graph used to analyse
the accumulation and ablation of mass. As the audience walked under the apex of the
installation and looked up they saw the ghostly patterns illuminated from above.
The materiality of the fabric is of interest to me in creating a work that feel alive and has
some sense of movement. ‘Negative Mass’ fabric moved gently in the wind,
inhaling and exhaling as it responded to the conditions of the space.
In your practice, you explore the intersection between art, science & climate
crisis. How do the cyanotype process contribute to the conceptual depth and
visual impact of your artworks? Also, despite both cyanotype chemicals have low
toxicity levels and are not classified as hazardous materials, how do you manage
the disposal (especially when it comes to site specific installations)?
The magic of the photogram, a cameraless process that forges a connection by touch
between object, surface and light. In the series ‘Ice Field’ the images were made by
placing the cyanotype sheets within and against sections of the glacier (crevasses, ice
caves, ice canyons, ice arches and seracs). The resulting images are a consequence of
a reaction between the physical forces; water, ice, and light. However, there was a
secondary processthat impacted the exposure. While the sheets were exposing,
dripping watereffectively developed and destroyed the image concurrently. This process
created a conceptual relationship where the ice/glacier was active in the recording of a
form, whilst simultaneously destroying the recording.
This historical process has been used in a way that connects the viewer to the intimately
to the forms, structures, and details of glacial terrains. The blue colour ties connects with
the blue that you witness on the glacier where the ice has been compressed.
The chemistry of the cyanotype has always been a bit of a concern, but through my
research I have found that it would have very limited impact on the environment. For
‘Negative Mass’ I very worried about putting a cyanotype into such a public place and
actually talked to a chemist who confirmed that it was safe for people and the
environment. I always make sure that the final cyanotypes are washed in environments
that have a lot of water to dilute the chemistry.
I'm curious to know what has been the public response to this artwork, and how
do you perceive its effectiveness in stimulating conversations and thoughts about
climate change? I'm also interested in the public reaction to the cyanotype
prints, do people ask about the process itself? does it raise curiosity?
It was interesting because we were there for the 3 day in which it was being exposed.
There was different levels of engagement, some people just walked passed, some
people stop ask about the process and others stayed for a long time to discuss climate
change. I spent those 3 days talking to people and it was so interesting to hear peoples
thoughts and fears for the future. It really made me change the way I viewed my artwork
and now consider it a way of activating discussion in relation to climate change. Many
people came back multiple times to see how the cyanotype had changed.
What is important to me is that the work is not literal, it offer no direct answers, but
connects on an emotional level about a landscape (glacier) that has a perilous future.
This is important because we are bombarded with data/information that it is hard to
grasp what is happening with climate change. I believe that art can play a powerful role
in facilitating an intimate connection with a landscape and how this could achieve a
contemplative and lasting effect.