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BLUEPRINT
Sylvia Grace Borda : Colin Gray : Alexander Hamilton:
Ran from: 8th February - 31sy March 2013

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BLUEPRINT

Glasgow Print Studios

Sylvia Grace Borda

Colin Gray

Alexander Hamilton


BLUEPRINT RELATED ACTIVITIES
Talk: Saturday 16th March, 3pm
Alexander Hamilton.

Lecture: Thursday 21st February, 6pm
THE AGENCY OF LIGHT, Sylvia Grace Borda will discuss the history of the photogram through the cyanotype and silver-based processes.

Cyanotype Workshop: Sat 6th and Sun 17th March, with Vlad Vyshemirsky
As part of the 'Blueprint' exhibition programme, you can learn how to print a perfect cyanotype and take a first step into alternative photographic processes. Learn how to prepare your own chemicals and coat paper with your own emulsion; how to enlarge your negatives and perform contact printing using ultraviolet light. All materials provided.

Sylvia Grace Borda
Colin Gray
Alexander Hamilton







In February Trongate 103 will be the centre for a city-wide event titled Blueprint, which links exhibitions in Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow Print Studio,  and the T103 Foyer, with organised access to associated material in various archives and libraries across the city.

Initially conceived as an exploration of the links between alternative photographic processes and fine art photographic printmaking (printing with ink), Blueprint has grown in scope to encompass seven exhibitions, organized visits to five important archives, a programme of lectures and tie-ins with various engineering organisations.

The three artists in Street Level's exhibition - Colin Gray, Alexander Hamilton, and Sylvia Grace Borda - either engage directly in the making of cyanotypes (Hamilton), allude to them through modern mediating technologies of image production (Gray) or dovetail the whole process of convergence between analogue and digital, as well as a conversation across time with the historical roots of the 'blue-print' process - as in the work of Borda. All make elegant objects of art whose methods or themes peer into the past, exist in the now, but also cast their eye on the horizon.

Blueprint - in-situ

Blueprint - in-situ

Blueprint - in-situ

Blueprint - in-situ



Dreaming of Cyanotypes - the Yin and the Yang of image-making

Recently there has been something of a resurgence of neglected, if not forgotten, methods of 19th Century photographic printing processes, and their reshaping within contemporary visual arts practice. It's a particular tendency in Scotland at the moment, with many younger artists being drawn magnetically to such laboured delights, and other image-makers in the networks of Scottish photographers whose work pays homage to the experimental beginnings of photography. But it's not limited culturally or geographically - a case in point being the fascinating exhibition at the 2012 London Art Fair, 'The New Alchemists – Contemporary Photographers Transcending the Print' curated by Sue Steward. The reference to alchemy is an appropriate one – its dictionary meaning as the medieval forerunner of chemistry, it proposed the transformation of base metals into gold. In the case of contemporary artists, it is about turning one thing into something else, presumably much more, from the analogue to a form of mixed media, and into something else physically, earthly, and sometimes when its good creatively, sensually.

The three artists in Street Level's curated miscellany in the Blueprint initiative – Colin Gray, Alexander Hamilton, and Sylvia Grace Borda - either engage directly in the making of cyanotypes (Hamilton), allude to them through modern mediating technologies of image production (Gray) or dovetail the whole process of convergence between analogue and digital, as well as a conversation across time with the historical roots of the 'blue-print' process, infused with contemporary theoretical and critical practice (as in the work of Borda). All make elegant objects of art whose methods or themes peer into the past, exist in the now, but also cast their eye on the horizon. Let's just suggest, there's something of the zeitgeist in their work.

Sylvia Grace Borda is the author of "The Artist's Photographic Book: Towards a Definition" in Photography and the Artist's Book, MuseumsEtc Publishers, Edinburgh (2012), addressing Anna Atkins use of the cyanotype process to produce the first-ever photographic book. In describing this work, which she has made specially for Blueprint, she says "my found traces or impressions of etchings are digitally copied to become master images that when colour reversed become cyanotype coloured images. The blue colour arises from consciously knowing that the brown tinted etching end papers when reversed into image negatives will become a series of cool coloured tones." Borda's intervention is particularly salient in conveying a sense of duality – of interdependency and interconnectedness – as it is about blending historic printing technologies and digital histories together to form a hybrid image print.

This collision and transformation of ideas and methods, is the decisive creative moment - when the objects are mesmeric and the meanings spellbinding.

Malcolm Dickson : Street Level Photoworks


Sylvia Grace Borda - Impressions
The series in 'Impressions' borrow from the imaging explorations of Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), scientist, astronomer and the founding father of the cyanotype or blueprint, whose ideas about photographic processes would revolutionise the copying and distribution of reproducible visual media before the advent of modern photography and digital publishing.

Photography' from its onset already hinted in name at its publishing potential. Photography as a term was coined by Herschel by combining the Greek words for light and writing. The term suggested a new revolution in printing and mechanical reproduction that now both the camera and the digital sensor have brought to the foreground nearly two centuries later.

'Impressions' has been specifically produced for the 'Blueprint' exhibition and through the series I have captured traces of 16th-17th century illustrated prints of scientific flora and anatomical observation. These faint images appear on facing pages within their original bound volumes and resemble early image silhouettes made by first photo cameras. These tracings are transformed as colour reversed digital renderings or image negatives – ready to be printed out again.

'Impressions' is not dissimilar to Herschel's own first cyanotype experiments. Of note he produced a series of copied etchings as blue print images (1842), promoting the medium as a new method of reproduction. Indeed the cyanotype is the only first-generation photographic process to become a standard for architectural and engineering drawing reproduction.

The cyanotype process in its day - much like the digital camera sensor today - has opened up reproduction and the possibility of imaging, seeing and picture distribution, moving it from perceived traditions and hierarchies of the old world toward a democratic and aesthetic form. In this way Impressions represents a condensed history of photographic ideals and aspirations.

Sylvia Grace Borda received a Masters of Fine Art from the University of British Columbia in 2001. She is both a Research Associate in Photography and Media Arts at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (Vancouver, Canada) and the University of Stirling (Scotland).

Borda has exhibited and lectured over the last 15 years, and for 2008-2010, she held Culture Capital Artist of Canada status. Currently, she is completing a series of video vignettes produced by aerial imaging technology, examining landscape as part of a commission to launch the Autumn 2013 Surrey Art Gallery Urban Screen Program. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally, with group shows in London, Taipei, Montreal, and Los Angeles and solo exhibitions in the UK, Canada, and Italy. A solo show at Street Level is planned for late 2013.


Images below : Sylvia Grace Borda : Gallery Talk - Sat 16th Feb
Sylvia Grace Borda

Sylvia Grace Borda

Sylvia Grace Borda

















 

 



Colin Gray - Scans
These scans are part of 'The Parents' project, a long-term collaboration with my mother and father. After photographing my parents skin and their environment in the 'Close Ups' series in this larger body of work, it seemed a natural progression to delve beneath this. The use of X-rays, MRI and C-T scans gave me a means to evolve the project and explore deeper themes and thus to look beyond, and under, the skin. This process was somewhat humbling, it enlightened me to the value and fragility of human life and how deep down we are all the same.

Having pioneered x-rays within an artistic project, I likewise popularized these techniques successfully within a commercial environment, working with the likes of British Airways, Mercedes and Sony. These then went on to appear in several D&AD annuals before being appropriated into the visual mainstream.

The early pictures in 'The Parents' often comprised of staged scenes which looked at my relationship with my parents and their relationship with each other, often expressed in a humorous way. Many of the images involved enactments of a memory or fantasy, interwoven with past events, domestic rituals, and the encroachment of old age. 'The Parents' project was shown at Street Level in 1997 – an additional element in that exhibition at the time involved Colin patiently and painstakingly x-raying all of the objects in his home which were then tiled onto the large window of the gallery space, creating a site specific installation. 'In Sickness and in Health' was premiered in 2009, then shown at Kulturni Centar Belgrade, Serbia (2010), Kaunas Photography Gallery (2011), and Ferens Art Gallery, Hull (2012).

Born in Hull in 1956, Colin Gray studied at the Royal College of Art, London and lives and works in Glasgow. He has exhibited worldwide including shows at Kunsthal, Rotterdam; Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal; House of Photography, Prague and the Australian Centre of Photography in Sydney. He has appeared in numerous publications including 'The Photograph as Contemporary Art' (Charlotte Cotton), 'Family: Photographers Photograph Their Families' (Sophie Spencer-Wood). In 2011 Steidl published the book 'In Sickness and in Health'.


Images below: Colin Gray : Gallery Talk - Sat 16th Feb
Colin Gray

Colin Gray

Colin Gray
















 

 

 

 

Alexander Hamilton - Cyanotypes
I am a visual artist with research interest in the exploration of the natural world with a particular interest in the use of the photogram method to reveal traces of what nature reveals. I grew up in Caithness, Scotland. Studied Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, after qualifying in 1972, I spent 6 months recording the plants on the uninhabited island of Stroma, creating my first photogram images. Recording plants using photogram techniques, is the essence of my practice. Ideas of close observation and chance play a crucial role in this relationship and relate to the way that photograms can be seen as a medium located between art and science. They offer a bridge between plants and concepts of sensory perception in which the role of the artist is to allow the plant to 'reveal itself and to speak for itself'.

My photogram works have been shown in exhibitions throughout Europe. In 2001 I collaborated with a centre for plant research at the University Hohenheim Stuttgart on the use of plants as bio indicators, shown at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh in 2002. From 2002 to 2007 I worked on creating a multi-screen moving image installation based on natural landscapes. These works have been exhibited at the Threshold Artspace in Perth, Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Fabryka Sztuki in Poland. In 2008 a major showing of my photogram images, 'Blue Flora Celtica', was presented at the Foksal Gallery Warsaw. In 2009 I completed a one year residency programme at Brantwood, responding to Ruskin's ideas on ecology and botany, with funding from The Leverhulme Trust. This work was shown at Brantwood, Lancaster University and The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. In 2010 I completed a Darwin Now project funded by the British Council, working with the Centre of Behavioural Ecology University of Poznan. The work was shown at the Muzalewska Gallery Poznan. The Highland Council toured an exhibition of my photograms to venues in the North of Scotland in 2011.

"Photograms, the pictorial result of the cyanotype process, are a major element of my artistic output. I am drawn to this technique because of its capacity to create unique images, each made by the plant's natural materials. The cyanotype process requires one to work directly with an object, usually a plant, which is placed onto a pre-prepared sheet of watercolour paper. The image is drawn out of the plant through the light from the sun, and permanently fixed by the simple process of being washed in water – hence the term 'camera-less photography.' The flower petals leave a trace, a unique deposit, on the paper. The final result contains the essence of each plant, displayed in rich tones of blue, creating a contemplative work of art."

Sylvia Grace Borda, Alexander Hamilton, and Colin Gray, are internationally exhibiting artists based respectively in Canada/Scotland, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.


Sylvia Grace Borda
Colin Gray
Alexander Hamilton