Category Archives: Experimental Learning

Experimental Learning : Cyanotypes

I began experimenting with cyanotype process in June 2017, quickly followed by a workshop in July that year with Russell Squires (see here )  and I’ve continued to play around with them, posting them on Instagram as and when I create them.

I say ‘play’ because I do find it fun, relaxing and enjoyable –  usually.  I haven’t written about  them, so far, during this Module because, whilst enjoying the process, I wasn’t too sure how I would fit them into ongoing coursework. However, I now think this is an appropriate point at which to ‘introduce’ them. Seeing the work of Emeric L’huisset  at the Brighton Photo Biennial last October showed that there is a definite place for cyanotypes as image and metaphor in a body of work – above and beyond that of ‘a pretty, blue picture’. Looking again at the ruined pier in Brighton encouraged me to experiment further:-

When I was photographing on the Basingstoke Canal at the end of last year I was struck by the lines of the Capgemini building and the cranes behind it on the opposite bank of the canal


It made me think of blueprints for buildings and so I decided to create a cyanotype.  It was a sunny day at the beginning of January – though the sun was weak. I prepared the negative

and then exposed on the treated paper for an hour and a half.

I was very pleased with the result until I realised that, although I’d inverted the negative, I’d forgotten to ‘flip’ it (the print side of the negative goes face down on the paper) so the building was the wrong way round. I waited for another day with sun, created a new negative and repeated the process. The exposure didn’t work too well at all this time so I’m now waiting until we get  sun with more uv or I get access to an exposure unit. I’m booked into a day workshop on Cyanotypes locally in a couple of weeks so will wait until then.

In the meantime, I have been collecting information on other artists who use the cyanotype method such as:

Eric William Carroll and Blue Line of Woods – large-scale images created in woods, “[…] commenting on the transient qualities of both the form and content. Equal parts Carlton Watkins and Anna Atkins” . Apart from the book he used innovative ways of exhibiting these such as installing them opposite more experimental representations of nature or integrating them with photogravures from Karl Blossfeldt’s “Art Forms in Nature”.

Liz Nicol  of Cargo Collective     – her earlier series of rubber bands (1997)  and  The Green Line – Nicosia (2015)  – A line drawn on a map in green crayon outlining the buffer zone between the Turkish-Cypriot northern region and a Greek-Cypriot southern region. Nicol decided to make cyanotypes in this buffer zone at the Ledra Palace crossing point.

I am exploring the idea of using cyanotypes further and hope that the forthcoming workshop will provide additional encouragement.