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MAKING BLUEPRINTS TODAY–Our World Cyanotype Day Australian Submission

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Making cyanotypes in Tasmania


We created some cyanotypes yesterday to contribute to the Australian World Cyanotype Day (WCD) travelling exhibition. Setting up a coating studio inside a friend’s house in Cygnet Tasmania we exposed the sensitised material on the front veranda and washed-out on the shadow side of the house. It all sounds rather an impromptu affair and in some ways it is, as travelling artists we have encountered these challenges before making-do with the site-specific needs of each art-making opportunity.


But what is difficult in Tasmania right now is the weather. We’ve been ready for weeks to make cyanotypes and yet the pervading conditions have been overcast or scattered heavy clouds between sunny gaps, rain or fog. And as cyanotypes work best with clear, bright and directly overhead sunlight it has been difficult. Added to this mid-winter’s low angle of sunlight at 43°south means exposure times have to be extended 3-4 times that commonly achievable up the east coast of Australia.

Making cyanotypes is a process that takes place over time. Chemicals are mixed, the substrate coated with a brush. On this occasion we were printing on cloth and due to the ‘flow-through’ the material we coated a few sheets sitting on top of each other. These super wet sheets then needs to dry. Cloth takes quite a while to dry due to the large amount of chemical absorbed in the fibers although drying can be accelerated by using a blow heater or hair dryer.


Coating the material…



Next a series of test exposures may need to take place to know, in the specific sunlight conditions you may be working in. After exposure the material is washed-out in running water – we add a little citric acid. And for an accurate density check the sheet needs to be dried a little. Then you can make your first exposure. At the moment in Tassie we’ve been working with 15 minute exposures!!


BOM – looking for gaps between the clouds

All this means that you may start out with sunny skies, do your tests and then start you exposure and the clouds come in – the Bureau of Meteorology website is regularly monitored to make sure that you have an adequate time over which to work.


Making the exposure…



Washing out after exposure…



Finally it’s hung up to dry …


10 starfish that are an invasive species with 8 bones of a Tasmanian wallaby by Victoria Cooper

Vicky’s work is a response to contemporary land and sea issues in Tasmania. The image is a double-sided cyanotype – shown here is the transparency of the work with the blending of the two images.


Swatches of blue: a colour of Tasmania by Doug Spowart

Doug’s cyanotype continued his experiments in direct light-strike on cyanotype sensitised materials. On this occasion the folding and refolding over the duration of the exposure creates a pattern of different blue densities. These emulate, like colour swatches, the different hues and tints of blue in the Tasmanian landscape. This is also a double-sided cyanotype that in this photo is still quite wet and yet to dry down.

Both cyanotypes have been made on linen material and are about 30 centimetres square. The linen was purchased at a local charity shop as second-hand white pillowslips. The A Smith Gallery presentation of these fabric squares has them pegged to lines running across the gallery ceiling where they appear like flags.


In The Maud Street Photo Gallery


The cyanotypes that we have made will be included in an exhibition of Australian cyanotypers at The Maud Street Photo Gallery in Brisbane during August 2-15. The exhibition is being co-curated by The Cyanotype in Australia team Gail Neumann and us (Vicky+Doug), and will bring together works from all over the country. It is a follow-up exhibition to the WCD exhibition In Anna’s Garden’ curated by Stephanie Richter, Gillian Jones and us at Monash Gallery of Art last year.


In Anna’s Garden


This year’s show is entitled ‘Land/Sea/Sky’ and the show at The Maud Street Photo Gallery is just the beginning as the works will be forwarded to the A Smith Gallery in Johnson City Texas for showing on World Cyanotype Day along with other works from across the world. At the end of the A Smith Gallery show the works will be sent on for exhibition in New Orleans at the PhotoNOLA Festival.

Participants in the exhibition will make a contribution to the costs of the Maud show as well as courier delivery to the U.S.A. and back home to Australia.



An invitation has gone out through various networks inviting cyanotype makers to participate in the Australian WCD Travelling exhibition. If you make cyanotypes please consider being a contributor to the show. If know someone who does please let them know about the exhibition and pass on to them the AUST_WCD_SUBMISSION.


For information about The Cyanotype in Australia and to join the the group’s FACEBOOK page: CLICK HERE


To Download a PDF copy of the catalogue for the MGA exhibition click the link: In_Anna’s_Garden-CATALOGUE-FINAL-INT






1788–January 25th, the next day, and now

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In 2010 we wanted to make an artwork to comment and reflect on Australia Day and some of our feelings about the origins of the date – the implications of that event and the repercussions that we live with and navigate today. Through a scorchingly hot day in Toowoomba we worked with cyanotype solutions and selected objects – some from our home and others sourced from the food scraps from a local seafood smorgasbord restaurant on the day.

The work that we did that day emerged as the collaborative artists’ book, a broadsheet we titled, Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788.


A statement about the artwork

Across Australia over the January 26th long weekend, people prepare, cook and consume food to mark this day in history.

For us, this work is our response to, and in recognition of, the ‘turning of the page’ in Australian history that this date represents. One day, January 25th 1788, Aboriginal people feasted on a diverse banquet of bush tucker as they had for thousands of years. The next day, the country was transformed by a new paradigm represented in this work by the table setting of the First Fleet.

Australia Day, for us, is an important time to acknowledge the First Peoples’ perspective and their knowing of land, culture and history and how it should be recognised as underpinning the diversity and identity of contemporary Australia. We, as descendants of European people, are seeking to understand and know more about our place within the longer history of this land.

The work is to be viewed/read in a display context with a spotlight directed onto the work.


View 1: Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788

The 25th of January side of the broadsheet is viewed and contemplated.


View 2: Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788

The broadsheet is then turned over to view the 26th of January side.


View 3: Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788

Finally the broadsheet is held up to the light – the complex interrelationship between the two visual references to be seen and considered.



BOOK DESCRIPTION: A unique state artists’ book broadsheet

TITLE: Australian Banquet January 25/26, 1788

MEDIA: Double-sided cyanotype image in rice paper

DIMENSIONS: 37.6 x 77cm

PLACE & DATE MADE: Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, 2010

EDITION: 7 variations



2014 EXHIBITED: Alternative Imaging – Curated by Dawne Fahey at Two Doors Gallery, The Rocks, Sydney

2011 SHORTLISTED: Southern Cross University Artists’ Book Award, Lismore. Judge: Ross Woodrow

2011 EXHIBITED: BLUE – Arts Council Toowoomba members exhibition, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

2010 FINALIST: Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photography Award,

………………………Gold Coast City Gallery. Judge: Judy Annear

COLLECTIONS: Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland





CYANOTYPE IN AUSTRALIA @ MGA – An exhibition & Workshop

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We are excited to announce an exhibition of the work of Australian cyanotype practitioners for World Cyanotype Day 2018 has now opened.

Over the last month we’ve been working with Stephanie Richter and Gillian Jones of Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne to bring together the cyanotype works by artists from north Queensland to Tasmania to exhibit in the MGA’s ATRIUM GALLERY.

We also presented a one day masterclass on the cyanotype and the book.


In Anna’s Garden: Poster


The exhibitors are:

Adele Outteridge, Ann Vardanega, Chris Byrnes, Christina Harding, Danielle Minette, David Symons, Dawne Fahey, Deanna Hitti, Felicity Rea, Gael E Phillips, Gail Neumann, Jan Ramsay, Janis House, Kate Golding, LeAnne Vincent, Linsey Walker, Lloyd Godman, Lynette Zeeng, Mark Lourensz, Mel Brackstone, Mollie Bosworth, Raimond De Weerdt, Renata Buziak, Robyn Campbell, Shane Booth, Silvi Glattauer, Sue Clisby, Thomas Oliver, Trevor Foon, Stephanie Richter, Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart.


the ‘In Anna’s Garden’ catalogue

A copy of the exhibition catalogue can be dowloaded ‘In Anna’s Garden’ CATALOGUE


A video of the gallery installation can be seen here…



THE STORY OF THE EXHIBITION from Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart


For around 2 years we have been members of the World Cyanotype Day Facebook page and have followed the work and comments made by cyanotypists from all over the world. When the call went out about the 2018 World Cyanotype Day (WCD) we shared the post on our Facebook page with the message, ‘wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could have an exhibition of practitioners from Australia to celebrate WCD’. Within minutes our Facebook Friends started responding with supporting comments like, ‘WOW, I’d like to be a part of that!’ Within 24 hours about 20 ‘Likes’ and comments appeared – we then thought about how we could make it possible.

In September we were scheduled to be in Melbourne so we made some enquiries with a few contacts about the possibility of an exhibition space that we could consider for the project. Things went quiet for a while and we sent out a few follow up messages. Then came a response from Stephanie Richter, the Monash Gallery of Art’s Education & Public Programs Coordinator, that the Community Access space at MGA could be available. After consultation with the Director Anouska Phizacklea and the MGA team the go ahead was granted to mount the exhibition and present a masterclass in the process. An event team was formed consisting of Stephanie, Gillian Jones – a recent Master of Arts and Cultural Management student from Melbourne University with Vicky and myself.

A Facebook Group was established and people who we knew were practising cyanotypists were invited to join. Through our contacts in alternative and traditional photography we enquired about other cyanotype workers that we should be aware of to extend to them an invitation to contribute to the show.
In time documents outlining the project, conditions of submission and important aspects of the venue and the audience were generated and made available online. Some invitees were contacted via email, as they were not Facebook users.

The closing dates for submissions, delivery to the gallery and installation all had tight deadlines. The FB group was able to provide a rapid distribution of information, an ability to respond to questions and circulate the answers back to the group. Behind the scenes the event team connected via Facebook Messenger to plan, resolve and prepare the way for the exhibition. Early in September the works were received at the gallery and a 3-day installation took place by the event team supported by artist Deanna Hitti. The exhibition was opened on the 15th of September and will remain on show until the 21st of October.

In Anna’s Garden presents a diverse and vibrant community of cyanotype artists and photographers working in Australia. Although the exhibition is not a complete survey, it does represent a beginning in recognizing the practice of this process in Australia. Also planned is the continuation of an openly accessible ‘The Cyanotype in Australia’ Facebook page to provide a place for networking and the sharing of concepts, techniques and images with the local, national and international communities.

The growing popularity of this early photographic process could seem strange at a time when instant perfection is so easily achieved through digital technologies. Perhaps the allure for the cyanotype lies in its hand-made working methods and technologies along with the potential for capricious results that inevitably lead to an excitement in the discovery new ways of seeing. For many the emotional power of the cyanotype’s blue image continues to create new perceptions through visual expression and storytelling 176 years beyond its first discovery.



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Written by Cooper+Spowart

August 28, 2018 at 11:27 pm

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