Under the Influence
In recent years digital imaging has unleashed a tide of creative endeavour among photographers. The boundary between photography and other graphic arts has never been more blurred, in fact there is now a considerable overlap between the two. Yet paradoxically that overlap is also something of a no man's land. There are still photographers who do not recognise the more advanced digital manipulations as photography at all. Conversely artists in traditional mediums such as oil and water colour painting cannot bring themselves to countenance digital forms of image making. For those of us who regard photography as a hobby this should not matter too much as we must produce the pictures that we like if we are to enjoy our hobby.
For me the major new influence of recent years has been not a fellow photographer, inspiring though many of them are, but an artist and print maker called Dilys Hallebone. Dilys is an accomplished painter but her forte is print making; etchings, engravings, linocuts, wood cuts, lithographs, all are informed by her considerable artistic vision and produced with great skill. Perhaps it is the pleasure I derive from making a photographic print that allows me relate particularly to art prints. For me the magic moment is when the print is placed in its mount and it suddenly becomes a proper picture.
Seeing the work involved in producing an art print is a chastening experience. With an etching the artistic vision of the original painting or drawing must be transposed to a wax coated plate, the image being scratched into the wax in reverse and as a negative. The plate is dipped in acid to etch the plate. Lino cutting can involve several pressings to lay down a complexly coloured image. Lithographs involve cutting the image onto a stone tablet, engraving cutting directly onto a steel plate. The are numerous other techniques but all involve great skill, patience and focus to realise the concept of the original picture in the final print. So it is with considerable humility that I have tried to capture some of the feeling of those art prints in my own pictures shown here.
I often comment that photographically I am a schizophrenic, loving plain and simple monochrome but also keen to explore new styles of photography. Dilys Hallebone has certainly inspired me to venture more deeply into that no man's land between art and photography.