Letchworth & Exeter - Untitled (What makes a photograph a photograph), (2021)
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)
Liz Harrington is a photographic artist working with experimental and alternative processes. She is interested in the transient nature of environments and traces of the past, finding beauty in the often unseen or overlooked. Liz works from her studio at Digswell Arts in Letchworth Garden City and has exhibited across the UK, and most recently in Barcelona, Spain as part of the International Experimental Photography Festival. She has been selected as commissioned artist, with Laurence Harding, for the ECDP and National Trust Flatford’s ‘The Bigger Canvas’ commission to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’.
Artwork & process statement
To make the developer the garden waste was macerated for 4 weeks, 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 is 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.
Statement of experience
I was partnered with Adam Garratt, who also creates process led, experimental works (and uses repetition and grids) – so it was an exciting match! Following discussions by zoom and email some core themes came to light - preciousness and rarity (in particular in relation to a print edition, and 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 repurposing of materials. I was struck by Adam’s use of found and waste materials in his work, as well as often a sculptural approach for the print-based works – both of which I’ve been considering more recently and experimented with as part of this project. I really valued the insights and learning from another process led artist.
Exeter - 200 Prints (part I), (2021) screenprint on Monarflex sheeting
Letchworth - 200 Prints (part II), (2021) screenprint on Monarflex sheeting
Exeter-based Adam Garratt’s practice often encompasses resourcefulness, the reuse of materials, repeat processes and architectural imagery. His processes include screen printing, wrapping, forming bundles, expanding and storing materials, and reworking existing pieces of work. He often aims to make work that can be condensed and later expanded into space, allowing him to work directly with material properties and hands-on processes.
For Correspondence01 I have made 200 screen prints on plastic Monarflex sheeting reclaimed from a building site having once adorned a scaffold structure. The prints are split in to batches of 100 for each gallery and include images of a Skip, a Biffa bin, 2 different utilities boxes & a large wire reel. Each image is printed in black on one side with a fluorescent colour highlighting on the reverse.
With my partnered artist @_lizharrington there were conversations around the preciousness of printed artworks. We wondered if there were ways to subvert what is expected of photography & screen printing with regards to the finished piece. Accessibility, process & modes of display became pivotal talking points & influenced our decisions while making the work. Having an artist to correspond with who uses experimental making process’ was crucial to me as it helped push my ideas. Liz raised questions & make comments on things that I had overlooked which allowed me to think about what I was doing more critically. Long detailed descriptions of our thought process & work were exchanged making it easy to follow each others progress.
I entered into a process of mass production in order to interrogate the printing process. Knowing that the work needed to fit into an A4 jiffy envelope I wanted to push the limit of what might fit inside. Deciding on 100 prints per envelope got the ball rolling on the theme of making decisions that printmakers tend to avoid. Not printing on paper, stacking & cramming finished work, & deciding on a mode of display to reflect that. To further question printed editions each set of the 40 prints was divided onto varying numbers for each gallery. This will make certain prints rarer in one gallery & more abundant in the other.