Dreams of the Darkroom – Inspired by Blossfeldt

Holidays and an influx of work have drawn me away from many things recently, including this little blog. The full workload has made me release how much I need to take a break and dedicate some time to the creative things I love to do and the relaxing things that keep me calm (and don’t involve a computer screen!).

I used to spend hours printing and experimenting with different techniques in the darkroom. There’s something wondrous about creating new things with your own hands, seeing images come to life and bringing those moments into light.  Right now finding the time to do it just doesn’t seem possible – but I long for another stint in the dark to create my latest ideas.

Analogue photography and fine art printing can bring emotive new elements to an image. As my work has always moved in and out of installation, teased at sculptural art and often incorporated textiles, traditional film photography and hand printing always allowed me to capture the beauty, harshness and texture I wanted to represent that just wasn’t possible otherwise.

Sunflower-Leaves-Nicola-Dellard-Lyle-flower-photography

Along with John Blakemore, Robert Mapplethorpe and Sally Mann, Karl Blossfeldt has been a great influence and source of inspiration for me as a fine art photographer. Seeing some of Blossfeldt’s original photographs in an exhibition at Bristol Museum has only intensified my yearning for another visit to the darkroom.

However, until time permits I’ll be outsourcing my film processing and playing around with my digital camera.

  

Inspired by Blossfeldt’s work at Bristol Museum and another summer of glorious wildflowers, we’ve collected bouquets from our garden and the house has been full of colour. We’ve spotted beautiful flowers in hedgerows on our adventures around Bristol too, especially in the countryside spots hidden within the city.

A recent collection from our garden (and a gift of flowers from a friend) inspired me to grab my camera and capture some of their beauty up close – à la Karl.

Leaf-Nicola-Dellard-Lyle-Photography

The Karl Blossfeldt exhibition at Bristol Museum is open until 13th September and is well worth a visit if you love photography, flowers and the simplified beauty of nature. You can read an article I’ve written about the exhibition and Blossfeldt’s fine art printing on the Bristol Museums website.

Sunflower-Stem-Nicola-Dellard-Lyle-Photography

A Bristol Museum Visit to Sign off August

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is somewhere I could go every weekend. It doesn’t matter if there’s anything new on display or not. The entrance foyer itself is worth a passing visit!

We visited on Sunday last weekend for a couple of hours and made a bee-line for our favourite room in the museum right now. On the 2nd floor, turn right at the top of the stairs and you’ll find ‘Places of Desire’-  showcasing Victorian and Edwardian art inspired by travels in stories, Europe and beyond. Standing with these paintings gets me thinking about how exciting it would have been for those artists to discover those counties for the first time, be one of the first artists of their kind to portray the people and places in that way. Some people would say those kinds of experiences don’t happen very often these days. I’d like to think that we have the opportunity to discover new experiences every day- so there’s always something for us to get excited about too.

Bristol Museum Places of Desire

 

As well as new found lands from our world, some of the pieces in the room depict imaginary places and fairy tale lands. The artist visits a new place just as an explorer would, then begins to draw from their mind a world that only they know, that is unique to their imagination. I would say it’s not worth me showing copies of my favourites here- you’ll just have to go and see it for yourself.

We also caught the English Magic exhibition, which is now in its final weeks at the museum. Jeremy Deller has devised powerful methods to portray the untimely, or maybe just incidental, connections and dichotomies of modern culture. Seeing the display of photographs from the 70s, where David Bowie and Irish protesters are placed side by side along the gallery walls, was a powerful start to the show. The rooms that followed were a more obscure selection of installations and multimedia pieces, including wall to ceiling murals- all gathered or created by Deller as responses to English culture of the past and the present.

Jeremy Deller English Magic

Jeremy Deller- English Magic

 

Quite a mixture for one visit, rounded off by a sunny stroll around Bristol’s Park Street and the triangle. Those kinds of days are why I love Bristol and are really why we moved to this city -where you can fit in shopping, art and culture into a warm sunny Sunday afternoon.