Alchemists Exhibition

Today the group show opens at the Viewfinder Gallery in Greenwich (see links).

Yesterday I spent the afternoon hanging the work. I thought bulldog clips would look great … and be easy to hang. But oh no. It took ages but at least I could do last minute tweaking and straightening with the prints rather than re-drilling holes.  I don’t like hanging work and on my own it was quite tricky but it’s all part of the process and I do love seeing it up on the wall. I hope people enjoy it.

I haven’t seen everyone else’s work yet – private view later today – but I think it will be a good show. Get down there if you can.

A little more about my images in Alchemists:


Shifting Tides is an ongoing series of work about the coast.  These particular images were all taken during coastal walks in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland.  This area includes picturesque villages (eg, Pittenweem, Crail, Cellardyke), craggy outcrops and rockpools as well as long stretches of sand (eg, at St Andrews, Elie, Tentsmuir). It’s a wonderfully diverse area which has inspired my photography for many years.  Over the years, I’ve tried to capture the changing nature of the villages and continue to document the coastline both in colour and black and white.

Although I tend to use digital cameras now, I still sometimes revert to black and white film.  I love to spend time in the darkroom and to immerse myself in old negatives and the smell of the chemicals.  The tactile nature of liquid emulsions and early photographic techniques is a welcome change from hours sat a computer. But these techniques also bring out the history and physical nature of the environment by producing an often imperfect but unique image.


The first two processes use contact prints exposed in sunshine or a uv lamp.

Salt prints: Watercolour paper soaked in a solution of sodium chloride (sea salt), then coated in silver nitirate mixed with citric acid. Exposed, fixed in hypo, washed and dried. Image appears like a sepia/brown print.

Cyanotypes: Watercolour paper coated with a solution of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. Exposed, washed and dried. No fixing required. Image appears blue.

Liquid Emulsion: Watercolour paper coated with SE1 (available from Silverprint). Negative exposed onto the paper in the darkroom, developed, fixed and washed. Image appears b/w but sometimes I then tone it.

This is my favourite image (made with liquid emulsion). Bird feet in the snow at Pittenweem harbour.  I think I love it partly because in all my years of visiting the East Neuk of Fife I’ve only ever encountered snow once. Well, that would probably be because I’ve visited Fife for 50 years but generally in the summer to stay with my granny during the school holidays. The snow was beautiful and the crisp cold sunny days made photographing it a pleasure. The haar(local sea mist) is my other favourite weather condition here! More of that over the next few months. The other reason I like this image is because the cutties (seagulls) are such an important part of the landscape and sounds of the area. Huge and imposing they follow the fishing boats as they come into harbour but they’re also just as likely to follow you down the road after your fish and chips. They can be pretty scary too.


~ by marysia on 29 April 2010.

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