Tag Archives: John Herschel

The Blue Stones

21 Oct

pentre ifan

I’ve been thinking about how to develop the drawings I did last weekend in North Pembrokeshire. I have seven drawings from four different Neolithic sites and I thought that one or two of them might look good as cyanotypes.

Cyanotype is an archaic form of photography invented in early Victorian times by Sir John Herschel which results in a blue image. The original charcoal and carbon drawing onto marbled paper was done in the field at the enigmatic ancient burial tomb of Pentre Ifan in the Presceli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, Wales. This striking Neolithic dolmen is almost 6 thousand years old. It is a lasting reminder of Celtic ancestors and the site is inspirational. I worked quickly in the late afternoon Autumn sunshine to catch it before the sun went down.

I turned the original drawing into a negative and coated a sheet of Bockingford paper with the cyanotype chemicals. I put the negative onto the paper and put a sheet of glass over it. I exposed it for three hours in the weak Autumn daylight, as the Victorians would have done. It was then washed in cold water to develop it.

Here’s a lovely video from Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, showing how Pentre Ifan might have looked when it was originally built.

 

This artwork is for sale through Artfinder

 

 

A Victorian Corset Part 1

25 Aug

Today I started something new. After months of making artwork for my exhibition at Oriel Ceri Richards, I launched into my next piece for a group exhibition at the end of September, “A Victorian Tapestri” based on Victorian Swansea. I’m doing something with cyanotype and a Victorian corset. Cyanotype is an early Victorian method of photography, one of the earliest, invented by the astronomer Sir John Herschel. I am using an historic pattern of a Victorian corset by Butterick and I have cut the pieces out of a heavyweight Somerset printmaking paper, a beautiful soft white, acid-free, cotton, deckle edge paper (250gsm) from St. Cuthbert’s Mill in Wells, Somerset. They’ve been making fine papers there for about 300 years. I like the idea of working with very old patterns, materials and techniques. Now, what am I going to do with it?

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