SC Companions I
SC Companions II
Stuart Clook www.labrettophotography.com
My photography and print making is influenced by the pictoralists and tonalist movements of the late 19th century where I use contemporary materials to make landscape prints of platinum, cyanotype and gum bichromate in muted colours of dreamy and painterly imagery. These historical processes renowned for their subtle tonal range, luminosity and inherent permanence are labour and time intensive yet rewarding and addictive with endless creative possibilities that help me use the full photographic syntax to make prints with personality that will stand the test of time.
Like a small but growing number of photographers around the world I’m exploring Analogue and Alternative Photographic processes to help me express my thoughts and feelings about the landscape that we live, work and play in. These processes help me make my prints in a uniquely personal way and where I can use my hands in today’s digital and machine centric world. I love the fact that results are not guaranteed and that sometimes serendipity can play her part in the final outcome making for truly unique handmade photographic prints.
My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at the world around them and to discover this beauty in the familiar and in the lesser known places around us.
Juried Exhibitions and awards 2018 and 2017 Bronze Medal, Canon NZ National Exhibition 2017 Mike Ware award, The Print Exposed, Gold Street Studios, Victoria, Australia 2017 Black and White (and Blue), The Darkroom Gallery, Vermont, USA 2015 Gold Medal and H.S James Landscape award, Canon NZ National Exhibition 2010 and 2009 Bronze Medal, Epson International Panorama awards.
Exhibitions – past and future group exhibitions 2018 Twelve photographers – twelve views exhibition, Art on the Quay, Kaiapoi, NZ 2018 Christmas Eighteen, Chambers Art Gallery, Christchurch, NZ solo exhibitions 2019 Precious Landscapes, Chambers Art Gallery, July 2019, Christchurch, NZ 2019 Precious Landscapes, September 2019, Gold Street Studios, Victoria, Australia
Representation Chambers Art Gallery and Magma Gallery, Christchurch. Peninsula Arts auction 2017, 2015, 2011, Christchurch Art Show 2017, 2015
Publications 2017/18 The Hand magazine, image contributor issues #15, 18, 21 2017 On Landscape magazine, 4×4 portfolio, issue 131 2017 Totara: A Natural and Cultural History by Philip Simpson, image contributor 2017, 2010, 2009 New Zealand Camera
Prized for its rich, subtle tonal range and its wealth of fine detail, platinum was a popular method of making photographic prints in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. Photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Frederick Evans employed it extensively.
My platinum prints are made from hand-mixed and hand-coated emulsions. These sensitisers are mixed just prior to use, coated onto paper or vellum with a brush or glass rod. Once dry, a negative is placed in direct contact with the paper, and then exposed to ultraviolet light. Exposure to the light source takes a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the density and contrast of the negative. After exposure the print is developed and achivally processed to leave a print of pure platinum and palladium metal embedded in the fibers of the paper.
The image tone of a platinum/palladium print can vary widely in colour and can range from a cool, slightly purple black to split tones of brown and warm black, to a very warm brown. The proportions of platinum to palladium in the emulsion, choice of developers and humidity of the paper at the time of exposure control the final colour.
Gum bichromate printing
Adding gum bichromate (a light sensitive emulsion made of watercolor pigment, bichromate and gum arabic) over a finished platinum/palladium print adds depth, richness and an opportunity to add subtle colour to the long tonal range of platinum print. The gum emulsion is brushed onto the platinum print and after drying is exposed to ultraviolet light through a negative which hardens the gum in proportion to the amount of light received. The print is then developed in warm water to wash away the unhardened gum. During development the gum can be manipulated with a brush, sponge or spray. Gum printing is usually achieved by repeating the process several times to build up the density required.
As these emulsions are mixed and coated by hand no two prints are exactly alike. I like to think of them as “monotype” prints from the same negative.
For people who collect photographs, platinum/palladium prints are known for their beauty, archival stability and unique, one-of-a-kind print statement.
These prints are a labor of love over several weeks to achieve the finished print. The processes are fickle, frustrating and yet seductive and totally absorbing. When everything comes together the finished print has a quiet and subtle beauty that is very unique.
Results are never guaranteed, and serendipity is always close by, making for a truly handmade and unique print.