Tina Rowe


Process is a fundamental element of every piece of work I make. With this artwork I was considering how the environment is an actor in any event and not just a backdrop or tool. Cyanotype is a photographic process that can be done away from the darkroom. The 19th C botanist Anna Atkins used it to capture the plants she studied and in so doing produced the first published work that was accompanied by photographs. I like the cyanotype process because it is simple and also reminiscent of magic through the mixing of two liquids that become a light sensitive potion with the power to transform everything it touches.

I coated a 50 year old wedding dress in the chemistry and exposed it on a beach in Essex. Then I walked into the sea where contact with water caused the colour to become bright blue and the shadows of the shells and seaweed to start to pop.

The choice of a wedding dress was deliberate. As an object it is loaded with a slew of agreed meanings and a further load of personal interpretation. The change from exposed unwashed chemistry to the shift to blue when it is touched by water reflects the simple gesture of a pen swipe that can seed and legitimize life changing, world changing, events.

The objects painted on the dress are also totemic, the scallop shell especially so as it marks both the way and the pilgrims along the routes of the Camino from the Alps in France or up through Guimarães in Portugal. I was not aware of Yemọja/Iemanjá/Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. Yemọja I knew nothing about Orishas, her cults and certainly nothing about her association with the water and the colour blue. Making this work has introduced me to new ideas via a completely different set of questions.

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