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Salt & cyan: photography using Victorian processes

by David and Angela Chalmers
An exhibition at Joe Cornish Galleries 29 April - 27 May 2017

Salt prints by David Chalmers

Scarborough-based David Chalmers creates his unique photographs using salt, silver and sunlight. He believes this historic formula, invented by the pioneers of photography in the 1830s, has helped him to express a pure, uncomplicated, photographic statement - a personalised vision of the moorland landscape in which he lives and works.

To make a salt print David positions the negative in contact with the silver sensitised paper, then exposes this directly to sunlight or UV light - the Victorians used sunlight to expose images long before the use of electric lamps became widespread towards the end of the nineteenth century. In this early printing method no enlarger is used and the resulting image is the same size as the negative: for his salt prints David uses a large format Deardorff camera, using 8” x 10” negatives which in turn creates 8” x 10” salt prints.

David describes the warm tonal scale of the silver chloride prints as ‘echoing an underlying stillness, creating nostalgic memories of the raw beauty experienced within a unique landscape. These simple images express my humble view of the natural beauty I have discovered whilst exploring the moorland and woodlands of the North York Moors National Park. I feel that the deep rich brown hues within my prints echo the underlying rustic feel that resonates in this landscape’.

For more information about David Chalmers’ salt printing method, please talk to a member of staff. David will be running a Salt Printing workshop at Joe Cornish Galleries on Saturday 13 May you can book online at www.joecornishgallery.co.uk

Cyanotype prints by Angela Chalmers

Angela has a fascination with Victoriana and early printing methods. She uses the cyanotype process to create hauntingly beautiful, unique photograms.

Created in 1842, the cyanotype method is a relatively straightforward one; no darkroom is needed - only sunshine! Cyanotypes are made by placing objects on treated paper and placing this in the sun. The sunlight interacts with the exposed paper which has been light-sensitised with iron salt solutions. It is this simple chemical base which gives the exposed cyanotypes their richly distinctive ‘Prussian blue’ tones. The objects placed on the paper, including photographic negatives, prevent exposure and the paper underneath them remains white, creating a silhouette effect. The well-known term ‘blue- print’, common-place in the English language, derives from the cyanotype method which was used to create copies of architectural drawings from an original made on tracing paper.

The paper Angela uses is hand-coated and varies in size, giving her full creative control over the image she is making. Her themes echo the technique’s origins and refer back to nineteenth century preoccupations. Angela says of her work, ‘My botanical images connect with the ‘language of flowers’ and the popular nineteenth century pastime of flower collecting, pressing and preservation. Figurative elements and feminine garments relate to a deeper focus on women’s history, memory and identity’.

For more information about Angela Chalmers’ cyanotype printing method, please talk to a member of staff. Angela will be running Cyanotype Printing workshops at Joe Cornish Galleries on Saturday 6 May & Saturday 5 August.  Book online at www.joecornishgallery.co.uk