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In Collaboration. With Nature!

As part of one of the Project NatureConnect Eco-Art therapy courses I completed we looked at what it means to create art in collaboration with Nature. I'd never considered this! I make art as a representation of Nature, but to actually involve Nature in the process is an interesting departure.

Vachellia karroo Cyanotype
Soetdoring (Sweet Thorn) Tree Cyanotype

One of the ways I have been entering into such collaboration is through cyanotype printing. The cooperation is multi-faceted:

  • The Sun needs to contribute. Cyanotypes depend on UV light during their exposure.

  • Plants donate parts of themselves. It's always important to forage with kindness. Check out these guidelines in Thee Witching Hour's Instagram post.

  • Sometimes the Wind comes out to play, and shifts things about a bit.

  • Insects can visit unexpectedly. And make their mark.

  • Water droplets can affect a print in interesting ways, and when a Cloud blows over it has an impact on processing time. As I type this I have a Soetdoring cyanotype outside, and the sun has suddenly been subdued by clouds. Great for me - January has been blistering here - but unpredictable for exposure.

  • Water is also essential in the development process.

  • If you're toning your print you can use Plant teas (made from different parts of various plants).

Of course - you can make a cyanotype print without most of these things! A UV lamp, photonegative and tannic acid or the like will also work. But there's a certain magic in Nature-collaboration that I wouldn't trade for convenience and predictability.

I'm also conspiring with Nature in other ways as my sculpture series progresses. How do you build relationship with Nature? Let me know in the comments.

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