About Correspondence 01

Correspondence 01, a pair of simultaneous group exhibitions taking place in August/September 2021, was a partnership between The Broadway Gallery Letchworth and Exeter Phoenix Gallery. It included work from 20 emerging artists – 10 from each area - selected by the respective gallery curators Kristian Day and Matt Burrows following an open call.

Originally conceived during lockdown, as a project that was designed to be flexible and adaptable to the changing Covid environment, the artworks on show were all created to fit inside a standard A4 ‘Jiffy’ envelope and exchanged by post from each place. With a focus on physical, rather than digital outcomes, and invoking the spirit of mail art and pen pal schemes, the artists, who hadn’t previously known each other, were paired up by the partner venues. They had the opportunity to meet (remotely), exchange ideas and collaborate where appropriate before making and exchanging their commissioned work. The resulting works were exhibited in concurrent exhibitions in both Exeter and Letchworth during August 2021.

I was partnered with Adam Garratt, a printmaker also interested in process led experimental techniques, and using repetition and grids in his work. Following discussions on Zoom and by email some core themes came to light – preciousness and rarity, in particular in relation to a print edition, how this might be subverted, and what this might mean in relation to photography and the photographic print/object; accessibility; unseen/overlooked/hidden places and the repurposing of (found) materials.

The work and process statement

Title: Untitled. (What makes a photograph a photograph), 2021.

Each work: Composition of 12 unique silver gelatin prints, on vintage/expired Kodak bromide paper developed using a home-made plant-based developer made from garden waste (mixed brown leaves, dried cherry blossom and weeds).

To make the developer the garden waste was macerated outside for 4 weeks during the summer of 2021, in order to extract the phenols from the plant material. The extraction was then used as the liquid base for the developer, made by adding washing soda and ascorbic acid. The extraction was a one-off and there was only sufficient liquid to produce developer to make these prints. Development times varied, ranging between two and 60 minutes. Where prints have been (purposefully) underexposed and/or long development times staining (toning) of the photograph from the extracted liquid is evident. Some of the prints have also only been partially fixed, so may change over time.

The work questions and subverts traditional viewpoints around what makes a photograph a photograph, drawing on ideas around preciousness and rarity of the photographic print, accessibility and modes of display.