It's as if you are in the dark. Contours, light and shadows, uncertainty. The photograms by Flowerville describe a moment, a magic, a secret. Plants from another world. We wanted to discover more about this world and asked Flowerville to answer a few questions about photography, plants and art for us. The artist herself would like to remain anonymous. Why? Well, that is and will remain a secret!
1. Your works are beautiful. The Henry Talbot experiment is very unusual. How did you come upon the idea to do it?
William Henry Fox Talbot was one of the first to develop this process. I didn't stay entirely faithful to his process, but his photograms and Anna Atkin's cyanotypes (a similar, although slightly different process to photograms) were very inspiring for me. In my case, it started with getting interested in analogue photography, and one of the first things you learn is how to make photograms. Naturally I've also learnt how to develop photos, but I loved doing photograms and it's been that way ever since. Over time I've gone from using new, normal photographic paper to using quite old paper between 50 to 110 years old. Recently I started using glass plates which are often even older than paper. I've also started moving towards smaller formats. I started with A5 and now I prefer 2 x 2 inches. The plants that I use are mostly from my garden or close surroundings.
2. How do you create an image like this?
It is a simple and relatively inexpensive process. You need photographic paper, a developer, a stop bath and a fixer. The flower is put onto the paper either in the darkroom or out in sunlight. In the sun you have to be quick, because the paper is very sensitive to light. The paper is exposed to light for a second and then is put into the developer for between one to three minutes. Afterwards the stop bath is used, then the fixer and finally the paper is washed with water and dried.
3. What do you love about analogue photography?
I can't really say. Perhaps it's the tactile aspect of it, and the way you can't really predict the result.
4. Do you have a favourite photo out of your works?
Not really. Maybe a few. Mostly I make a bunch and then some of them turn out okay and some not. Occasionally some really nice ones come out, but after I've done them I'm already occupied with the next ones.
5. What fascinates you about flowers?
Their resilience and gentleness.
6. Is there an artist that you admire?
I admire artists that followed their vision without any big fuss, and pursued their ideas in peace. I am fascinated by slowness and repetition. If I were to name names they would be Jankelevitch, Stifter, the more serious works by Christian Morgenstern and of course Anna Atkins, Karl Blossfeldt, Talbot...
7. If you could be a plant or a flower, which would it be and why?
Perhaps a clematis because of its flowers and leaves and its elegance. I also use it quite often in my photograms.
8. If you had an hour more each day, what would you do with it?
Probably nothing, I don't know. Maybe I would stare out of the window and think about things.
9. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
You can never lose a thing if it belongs to you.