Today was the beginning of the term break for me as I only work 3 days a week now. I managed to procrastinate online all morning. I fitted in some quality time in my darkroom after lunch though. I have a solo exhibition application in the works. So if I’m accepted into the space I want to have plenty of time to make the best quality prints I can. The negatives span more than 30 years of shooting film and are mostly images that I have liked for and of themselves. But may not have fitted in with other series and bodies of work I exhibited in the past.
It’s a bit weird working with such old negatives. I started in my first year of University with a Mamiya medium format TLR camera. I used Microdol-X as my developer in those days. I now use a Hasselblad as my main medium format camera. Recently switched to Xtol too, a commercial developer also by Kodak. Prior to switching I had used a home made developer called D25. I’m still using the same film though, Kodak T-max 400.
Papers too, have changed radically since 1989 when I was at University. Now most papers are multi-contrast as opposed to graded. This is actually a good thing as I feel I can eke more out of a negative using the 2 extreme filters, 00 and 5. A technique called ‘split filter printing’.
I hope then to better match my expectations of an image using the split filter printing system, and a variety of home made paper developers. Compared to my University days, when a neg may have been put aside due to it not being able to printed well on a single grade of paper.
The differences between cameras and eras seems noticeable. The developer not so much. I switched film developers mainly for environmental reasons but technique also played a part in that decision too. I touched base with an old teacher a couple of summers back and he suggested the change.
The weird part is as I’m not really working to a fixed time frame, I have all the time in the world to muck around as I make each print. Some are just “falling” out of the enlarger, others are requiring many test strips and prints. I plan on exhibiting about 14 to 18 prints. Pinned directly to the walls of the gallery.
I have applied to the Sunshine Community Arts Space for another solo show in 2022.
Here are some images that formed part of the application and potentially part of the exhibition.
The images form part of a larger archive and at one level are simply images I’ve always connected to, but not actually printed to exhibit in the past.
Like the last solo show in 2019, these prints will be small about 18 cms square. However this time I am not framing, just pinning, to the wall.
The work comes for a place that I have been situated in since the beginning of the pandemic. Relying mainly on my archives and my darkroom. I initially set out to make a small artist book, using contact printed negs. This process lead me to realise I could make a small solo show or two from the images I collated. All up I looked at over 539 medium format contact sheets from 1988 to 2021. The first edit for the book culled this down to about 80 images. This was too many for the book I had planned. The excess images may then make up several solo exhibitions.
Beijing Silvermine is an archive of 850 000 negatives salvaged over the last ten years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing. Assembled by the French collector and artist Thomas Sauvin, Beijing Silvermine offers a unique photographic portrait of the Chinese capital and the life of its inhabitants in the decade following the Cultural Revolution.
In 2009, it seems I was working in and around the Docklands precinct of Melbourne. Using colour film and my Hasselbald. This work is likely to sit in my archive its use undetermined. I had begun working there as early as 1993 or so. In those days the site was still a lingering industrial wasteland. See image below shot on 5×4 and black and white film.