Anne Scallan, Cyanotypes

The club was delighted to have local artist, Anne Scallan come and talk to us about her work and in particular her use of Cyanotypes in creating images and art.

Anne & John discuss the process of creating a cyantotype

A graduate of Chelsea College of the Arts and UCC, Anne recently returned to Ireland after spending  16 years in London and now lives here in west Cork. A mixed media and textile artist, Anne has used the photographic process of cyanotype, invented by John Herschel in 1842, to create contact prints on paper or material. In some instances Anne has stitched or sewn thread into the print to embellish the image. Anne has experimented with a variety of papers such as watercolour and rice paper. Each absorbs the light-sensitive liquid at different rates and consequently produces a variation in the image produced.

Anne initially showed us some of the work of Anna Atkins, an English botanist and one of the first women to create a photographic image.  Anna went on to self publish a book of images of algae which is considered to be the first book ever published with photographic illustrations.

A cyanotype made from a digital negative.

The technique involves exposing a piece of light-sensitive material to the sun upon which has been placed the object or objects you wish to ‘photograph’. The exposure can last from 5-12 minutes depending on the intensity of the sunlight. After exposure the material is then rinsed leaving a positive image of the non- or semi-transparent object. An alternative method is to create a digital negative of the subject and print onto transparent acetate then place the acetate on the material before exposing to the sun.

All the members were fascinated at the results and a number inspired by Anne to give the process a go themselves. Many thanks to Anne for her fascinating and informative talk.

For those interested in creating their own cyanotypes the two chemicals used to make the light-sensitive mix to paint on the material can be seen in the gallery below.

Anne made mention of Anna Lamb and Caleb Cole as being contemporary artists creating cyanotypes and example of their work can be found online.