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Posts Tagged ‘Australian cyanotypes

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






LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARD – Cooper+Spowart Finalists

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The artists’ book TIDAL by Cooper+Spowart


Our artists’ book TIDAL is now on show as a FINALIST in the 2018 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARD at Artspace Mackay, Queensland, Australia.

We are excited to be finalists in this Award exhibition. The awards were announced on May 26 – details of the winning works and a download of the exhibition catalogue are available at the bottom of this post.




TIDAL is a montage of fragmented imprints made from the solid reality of found objects swept up by the tide–beautiful castaways from the ocean.

These objects as image elements, no longer in their original form, are woven together as if a poem, song or dance. In many ways TIDAL relates to a ‘desire for that melancholy wonder that is the blue of distance’ from Rebecca Solnit’s A field guide to getting lost.  Or just simply it could be about the artist and their art.

It is book of double-sided cyanotype prints, when held to the light, allow for the montage of the images front and back, thus merging and unfolding the space and time of the page and the book. Reading becomes the blending of the fragments through the spatial divide of the turning page.

The video that follows gives a basic view of the TIDAL book:






This project began with the collection of beach detritus at low tide after the super moon at Wooli, north coast New South Wales.

We worked collaboratively in the intense heat of Christmas Day 2016 to hand coat the cyanotype emulsion on ricepaper, expose the ‘found objects’ to the paper in the sun, and then wash-out in running water with a dash of lemon juice to create the double-sided cyanotype folios.

Over the next year we developed the structural form of the book, and finally returned to finish it at Wooli, as this state, over Christmas in 2017.

The double-sided cyanotype prints, when held to the light, allow for the montage of the images front and back, thus merging and unfolding the space and time of the page and the book. Reading becomes the blending of the fragments through the spatial divide of the turning page.



A unique state book of 6 double-sided cyanotype images on rice paper.

Book size 49.5x30x1 cm

The text was written by Victoria Cooper and includes a quote by Rebecca Solnit.

Folders and text:
Canson Stonehenge and Arches paper with rice-paper collage elements.

Garamond font family in pigmented inks on Arches paper.

This book is another work created in an ongoing series relating to the locality of Wooli and we acknowledge the support provided by Dr Felicity Rea




Frontpiece: TIDAL





Category 1. Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists’ Book Award

Winner: Clyde McGill for his work ‘Witness’

Category 2. Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Altered Book Award

Michelle Vine for her work ‘Contested Biography I (quadrat)’

Category 3. Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists’ Book Award

Jamian Stayt for his work ‘Tagged’

Category 4. Artspace Mackay Foundation Tertiary Artists’ Book Award

Jenna Lee for her work ‘A plant in the wrong place’













National Works on Paper submission – not shortlisted

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As an artist there is a need for affirmation and justification for one’s life in the activity and practice of artmaking. Artists prepare and curate their work in gallery exhibitions to present work – and then there are awards and competitions.  Each year, as the call for entries comes around, we like many artists around the country, look at recent work and consider its appropriateness for specific awards.

There are of course thoughts of winning an award but perhaps more importantly is the opportunity to be shortlisted for exhibition and considered for purchase or collection. Equally important for us is the opportunity to connect with fellow artists in the curated exhibition that represent the judge’s opinion of what constitutes the most relevant works based on the competition’s criteria.

This year I submitted to the National Works on Paper Award an artists’ book that I had made during our Skopelos Works on Paper workshop in Greece last year. The book is an exploration of the idea of a montage of light capturing the performance of reading a book. Simultaneously the reader, the location where the reading took place and the page-turning action of reading is imaged in light sensitive cyanotype on the watercolour pages of the book.


Doug Spowart opens SKOP PHOTO after its creation in Greece     PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


Here’s an image of the book:

SKOP PHOTO artists’ book by Doug Spowart


Other images of SKOP PHOTO folder, cover and details


ARTIST’S STATEMENT: SKOP PHOTO an artists’ book by Doug Spowart

This book is created using the cyanotype (sun print) process as part of the author’s ongoing investigation on the ontology of reading.

The book was folded into a concertina form to eventually allow for a variety of potential readings; either extended or page after page. The author then coated the light sensitive cyanotype emulsion onto the pages of the book.

The pages were slowly turned and extended over several minutes allowing the sunlight of the Greek island of Skopelos to strike the emulsion as author performed reading.

After washing in a bath of water, an image of the Aegean light was formed in Prussian blue on the pages of the book. Alternatively, where the light had not fallen on the page – there seemed to be no image formed. But this apparent absence was a “shadow” – a kind portrait of the artist reading the book in its moment of creation.


Today I received an email advising that my submission was not shortlisted..


Not a big problem for me as only 1 in 16 artworks were accepted for the 2018 awards and those names on the list are a fine group of artists.


If you are interested the 2018 National Works on Paper finalists were:
Raymond Arnold, Peter Atkins, Alec Baker, Martin Bell, Ray Besserdin, Solomon Booth, David Bosun, Godwin Bradbeer, Kate Briscoe, Jane Brown, Jon Campbell, Susanna Castleden, Danica Chappell, Hua Cun Chen, Sam Cranstoun, Lesley Duxbury, Robert Fielding, David Frazer, Ian Friend, Dana Harris, Katherine Hattam, Pei Pei He, Kendal Heyes, Mark Hislop, Deanna Hitti, Anna Hoyle, Natalya Hughes, Alana Hunt, Locust Jones, Jennifer Joseph, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Brian Martin, Georgie Mattingley, Mish Meijers, Viv Miller, Helen Mueller, John Nixon, Open Spatial Workshop, Elena Papanikolakis, Louise Paramor, Hubert Pareroultja, Jemima Parker, Riley Payne, Dan Price, Lisa Reid, Louise Rippert, Cameron Robbins, Brian Robinson, Elissa Sampson, Emily Sandrussi, Geoff Sargeant, Jo Scicluna, Liz Shreeve, William Smeets, Kylie Stillman, TextaQueen, James Tylor and Laura Wills, Trent Walter, Rosie Weiss, Mumu Mike Williams, Puna Yanima, Yvonne Zago, Tianli Zu.


Exhibition details at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Art Gallery:

The opening event and award presentations will take place on Saturday 21 July from 4-6pm. An electronic invitation will be sent to you closer to the date.


Now I’m looking forward to 2020

In the meantime I’ll be pursuing some more cyanotype documentations of the act of reading – maybe during our upcoming Bundanon Artists Residency in June…





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