Blossom In the New Normal

Environment, photography

The cherry blossom took on a huge significance this year, a sign of optimism that things are returning to normal after the nightmare of the pandemic.

A previous darkroom print that I painted

Every year I walk through the avenue of blossom trees in Greenwich Park to breathe in the sights and smells of the spring blooms, which scientifically are a great boost for wellness. Just like insects, we still respond to the power of plants and flowers. It’s easy to forget our connection to Nature after a winter of quarantine with a connection to computers.

This year the blossom avenue was full of photographers , mainly Instagrammers making use of the delightful backdrop of pink. Every professional influencer wants that shot in front of the beautiful blossom.

It was impossible to have my relaxing stroll because you had to dodge camera tripods and lighting stands at a safe 2m distance. I hung around quite happily to wait for them to finish so I could have a turn walking on the path. But each of the 7 photographers there (on a quiet rainy Tuesday), stayed for at least 2hrs. One photographer had models with different outfits in suitcases and was there a whole day with a picnic laid out.

It was interesting to observe the “selfishness” of these people. They were behind the cameras as if they were not part of reality, it’s not like they didn’t care. I wondered if this was an effect of quarantine, social Media, or what? I’ve never seen anything like it. I heard that people were snapping off twigs of blossom to pose with. Many times, in daffodil season, I have repremanded people for trampling the flowers whilst posing for photos.

But Why?

  • some city dwellers are unaware that they are destroying Nature because they have barely experienced plants
  • tourists sometimes don’t understand that these are cultivated and not wild plants
  • Children expect flowers to spring up again like rubber toys
  • this new phenomenon where people seem to be looking at life through a screen , and aren’t in the ‘reality’ (if there is a ‘reality’)
  • a small minority just don’t care and willfully toss litter, and destroy plants which they believe are there to serve them

I must look more into the Japanese tradition of Hanami. This is possibly what was going on, people spending a whole day under the blossom in groups is a tradition that I was not aware of.

Its is also interesting that in Buddhist tradition each blossom represents a fallen Samuri, it reminded me of my Leaf Project in which I am making each leaf represent a Londoner. In China the flowers signify hope and feminine power.

This photo shows how I managed to find a lone tree by the gate to photograph. There is always a way to get the shot!

As a photographer I feel dutybound to convey that picturesque Nature is not just a convenient backdrop, its the very fabric of our life, and future generations depend on it.

my photo from a quieter year

Summer Online

photography

I am proud to present this gallery showing some of the fabulous creations made by students at my various summer online workshops.

click to view and see credits:

My online workshops really took off this summer. Every single one sold out. I enjoyed meeting people from all over the UK and Jerusalem, America and France! Its been an isolating time and there is nothing like joining together over a creative activity.

I am teaching sessions from Beginner to Advanced levels, and some people attended several sessions and made excellent progress. The niche stuff (such as toning cyanotype) is where it gets really interesting. It was a learning curve to run entire workshops on Zoom, but I got the hang of it, my past career in TV has helped.

Lots of online workshops I’d seen were impersonal webinars, or pre-recorded videos or demos. I tried to do something different , by mailing out kits that I put together from hand-made ingredients and recycled packaging. I think it is important to make a real and interactive experience.

Sunprinting and lockdown have been great bedfellows. The sunny season is nearly over now so I just have one Cyanotype Card Making workshop remaining on Fri 6th Nov. I’m planning a special winter Photo Walk too. And the very popular 1-to-1 sessions will continue. In the meantime I have made headway with some of my own important projects : The Leaf Project and my Lockdown Cyanotypes (working titles).

Online Cyanotype Workshop- Fully Booked

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THIS WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL

I am taking my popular cyanotype workshops online via Zoom. You will learn to make cameraless photographs “photograms” using this non-toxic process that originated in the 1800s. Join me for this fledgling session, which is essentially free, but each of the 5 (max) participants will need to purchase a specially prepared Cyanotype Kit via the link below so we are all using the same materials. The cost for the kit is a bargain at £29 inc p&p, it contains :

Kit Contains :

  • Basic A4 printing frame
  • Hand-coated A4 paper
  • Latex gloves
  • Pegs
  • Recycled black bag and packaging
  • Postage or hand delivery

You will also need
– Indoor space with good Wifi, or Data, and the Zoom.us app on your device
– Outdoor space or windowsill for exposing you prints to sunlight
– tray at least 2″ deep and A4 size, or a sink for rinsing your prints . Water.
– Washing line with pegs, or cardboard or plastic surfaces for drying prints
– a few flat plants, leaves or objects up to 6″ long

This will be a fun and relaxed workshop suitable for adults of all levels. People will be attending the event indoors and popping in and out with their prints for expose to sunshine (it will also work on a cloudy day). The workshop will run from 2-2.40pm and then we will have a break for people to do some solid printing. Part 2 of the class will resume at about 3.20pm and we will finish at 4pm approx.

There will be ample opportunity to get 1-to-1 feedback and tips due to the small class size. I will be indoors demonstrating the process and telling you about the history and science of Cyanotype.

Don’t worry if it is an overcast day – we can still get results.

If this introductory workshops goes well, I hope to follow it with more advanced sessions : coating paper, printing on fabric, using negatives, toning etc .

New Commission

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I’ve won a commission to produce artworks for 4 lobbies in the new Timberyard buildings on Grove street, Deptford. I am delighted to bring my local knowledge to this project – and I am involving the community in researching Deptford figures past and present.

Working for a large corporation is a world away from doing your own thing as an artist, there are lots of hurdles and demands, sometimes I feel like a very small cog in a big wheel, but I am rising to the challenge. I love the thought that new residents will walk past a slice of Deptford history when they leave the building to head off to work in the City etc.

My proposal included wood collages, paintings, photo collages and huge cyanotypes. So I have my work cut out! Here are some of my activities so far.