Last week’s gorgeous September sunshine created perfect conditions for Somerset-based visual artist Carolyn Lefley, when she led a two day workshop on the cyanotype, or sun print process, with GCSE and A level Art and Design students.
A cyanotype print is created with the light from the sun and is one of the earliest photographic printing processes using iron compounds rather than silver, and was invented by William Herschel in 1842.
Carolyn, who specialises in sun prints explained:
“The process involves coating paper or fabric with a liquid mixture of two iron compounds that react to sun light (UV light) to form an insoluble blue compound, known as Prussian Blue. Engineers and architects used this process until recently to make blueprints. This is a wonderful process to show to art students, as it’s very immediate, painterly and almost magical the way the print appears through the chemical reaction with light.”
Carolyn tailored the workshop for pupils to a brief entitled ‘Luminous Nature’, a theme which aligns with the school’s eco and outdoor learning ethos. The students’ prints, made with locally hand-crafted water colour paper from St. Cuthbert’s Mill, were made outdoors in the Yurt classroom, using natural light and materials from the school grounds. The images are now displayed in the school gallery, alongside some of Carolyn’s photographic work, as part of Somerset Art Works Open Studio event. A suspended installation entitled ‘Postcards Home’ forms the centre of the exhibition and consists of dozens of cyanotype postcards created by Carolyn and the students over the two days.
Ms Basia Chmiel, Head of Art at Bruton School for Girls, said the continuing partnership between the school and SAW cemented the appreciation of the arts which is reflected in exceptional results at GCSE and A Level.
The exhibition (Venue 9, SAW Somerset Open Studios Festival) will be open to the public Monday to Fridays from 9am to 5pm between 19 - 30 September 2016.