2 May 2010

Cyanotypes and the Alphabet

This Spring is turning out to be a time when I can complete some unfinished projects and reassess the direction in which my work is going.


A couple of years ago I ran a children's art project exploring aspects of the ruined site of an innovative open air school for children in a wood in Bradford.  We made beautiful blue and white cyanotype prints using the leaves and flowers growing in the woodland.  A cyanotype is a very simple kind of photogram that uses sunlight to power a chemical reaction on paper.


During the research stages of the project we kept finding small fragments of pottery - remains left from when the school burned down in the 1960s.  The most evocative items were two little adjoining pieces of a child's alphabet plate, but not the usual alphabet, this was the sign language alphabet for the deaf, so all around the edge of the plate were tiny hand signals.




I decided to teach the project children to sign the alphabet and take photographs of their hands spelling out a message, with a view to making a book.


It seemed appropriate to tint the photos blue in keeping with the cyanotypes we made and the archetypal blue and white pottery fragment. In the end however, whilst the concertina contents went on display, I didn't get a chance  to make covers and complete the book.  But now finally 'An Alphabet Across Time' is finished I'm pleased to say.  Its a unique book and I don't imagine there will ever be any other copies.

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