‘Let me guide you’ – Collaborative Cyanotypes

The exhibition, “just under the surface’ offered the opportunity to try a collaborative approach to making Cyanotypes.  Taking the spirit of astronomical enquiry from Herschel’s original scientific use of the cyanotype for recording scientific notes, I invited visitors to the exhibition to contribute a thought, diagram or drawing on the theme of ‘Dark Sky Dreaming’ in recognition of the Isle of Man’s recently confirmed status as a dark sky area.

Collaborative cyanotype exposing at exhibition private view

The result below was successful in that a number of people were persuaded to take part and made beautiful and thoughtful contributions.  The simple phrase “I will guide you” was written by an Australian contributor, it is almost lost  but can be faintly seen at the bottom under a drawing of the Southern Cross arrangement of stars.  Through this activity I met Janet Lees, poet and film maker from the Isle of Man, she reacted really enthusiastically to the task and carefully wrote these words:

Undressed by the wind

down to bright skin

and blazing dark

Hands open to the indigo sky

no clothes

just the ghosts of clouds

(Janet Lees 2016)

Later research on Janet’s website showed her connection with the visual image through her  poetry films that have been widely shown at festivals.  This is a really interesting possibility for future work, combining word and image, but also as moving image too.


Technically there were problems as the  exposure is not consistent. The darker side over exposed as some subtle drawings and contributions were lost in the very dark blue and the the lighter side was great at recording the detail but lost the depth of blues it is arguably under exposed.  The solution to this is probably to create bank of lights or a strip to spread the exposure more evenly.


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