Tina Rowe


The 19th C botanist Anna Atkins used the cyanotype process to capture the plants she studied and in so doing produced the first published work that was accompanied by photographs. The process 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 on a contract that can seed and legitimize life changing, world changing, events. 

The objects painted on the dress are also significant, 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. After the film was made a Brazillian friend said it reminded them of Yemọja/Iemanjá/Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. I knew nothing about West African Orishas, and their cults and certainly nothing about her association with the water and the colour blue and the terrible journey from West Africa to the eastern coast of Brazil.

Once dried, the photograms faded quite quickly because the dress was made of a man made fabric. It remains blue, with faint shadows of the objects, like the difference between memories and the actual experiences that the memories emerged from.

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