A teenager in Belfast during the 1970’s; a history student; a bookbinder; a teacher; a psychotherapist; fascinated by photography’s capacity to confound more than confirm; drawn to fragments; traces of things once known; the tragedy of individual lives; the aftermath; abstraction.
My Images are created with home-made and adapted cameras, or with no camera at all. Often an exasperating and uncertain business, but one with a truly liberating appeal for me. I am rooted in traditional photographic practice; silver salts in a darkened room. I benefit from engaging with the mysterious alchemy implicit in this transformative process. I use photography not to document the present, but as a way of observing the outcome of past events.
My present series of work under the title Limen Lucis, draws on some of the earliest and most direct explorations with light sensitive materials from which modern photography is descended. William Henry Fox Talbot’s original experiments involved placing objects directly on sensitised paper and exposing it to sunlight. No camera equipment is involved in these ‘sun prints’; artifacts make direct contact with photosensitive material to create a unique image - a physical memory embedded with an echo of the object. In the Arminghall Henge images shown here, I have used this elegant 19th Century process to investigate the site of a Neolithic Henge. It is rather like trying to connect with a long-dead ancestor, to bring them into the present time. These camera-less images become an indexical sign belonging to the family of traces that include fingerprints, fossils or tracks in the snow. There is little evidence of my monument available to the naked eye, but using natural objects found around the site, the sunlight of the Spring Equinox and silver based photographic paper as used since the 1870’s (with exposures of up to six hours), I have created these ephemeral images that seem to have escaped from some other reality. The lineage of such images created by physical transfer can be traced back to the 32,000-year-old prehistoric handprints discovered on cave walls in southern France. In my Limen Lucis images it is the photographic process itself that serves as the ‘medium’ to conjure up these dreamlike images, these light transformations…