This week we open our doors to the final graduate show of the Summer; Brink, Plymouth University’s Photography Degree Show.
To kick start our series of Artist Profiles this week, we have artist Rosie Grace Hill who we spoke to about the inspirations and techniques used in her final piece, ‘Traces’.
Where did this project begin?
The china clay quarries of Devon and Cornwall are innately beautiful, made so by a strange mesh of nature and man-made intervention. Yet in the past decades, the production of china clay has been in decline. Likewise, the photographic film industry is withering as it gives rise to the digital age. The number of rolls of film sold globally each year, with the amounts of china clay produced, is declining in an almost identical geographic pattern. As a result of research into these industry’s correlating abandonment I decided to photograph the china clay industries with analogue photographic techniques.
What photographic techniques did you use to achieve the desired effect?
In the early stages of the project, I found my photographic outcomes did nothing to visually portray my concept. I started to alter the development process of the film with substances native to the sites; clay, water from the reservoirs, burnt out machinery etc. I began experimenting by soaking films in these solutions for 3 days, drying them out for 5, and then shooting directly onto the altered film roll. This abstracted the image at varying levels, portraying traces of industry through traces of the former image.
Are there any particular photographers who have influenced this project? Who did you look up to artistically?
A strong influence for my work has been that of William Arnold, an MA student at Plymouth University. His experiments using ‘primitive and antiquarian’ analogue photographic methods, with digital scanning techniques create something really quite unique. It utilises the best of both processes; beauty of analogue chance with beauty of digital control. It is this that makes his work’s uniqueness so remarkable in shape, form, colour, technique and process- all emphasising their unique ephemeral quality.
Is there a particular message you wish to convey in your work?
In using different processes to create images of tactility and materiality, the resulting work I produced depicts the traces of industry through traces of photography. Such techniques abstracted the image in various forms, leaving only a trace of the image’s original context, reflecting back to declining china clay industry spoken of earlier. I’ve found my ideas quite fluid and circular, yet often difficult to explain concisely. Therefore, I would love to continue this project in the future, to push the processes to their extreme and explore new industries and places.
Rosie’s work will be shown alongside her fellow graduates from 6th – 10th August, here at The Strand Gallery.
For more of Rosie Grace Hill’s work, visit her website.