Guest blog by Hannah Ayre
In early May 2020, towards the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to take part in the 100 Days Scotland Project. I’d taken part the previous year and thought that it would provide some useful lockdown focus, after loosing all my freelance work due to Covid 19. The project is a community of people, committing to making something, on a theme, every day, for 100 consecutive days. I chose to make 100 cyanotypes. An alternative photography process, which involves using sunlight to create a chemical reaction and make an image. I’d made plenty of cyanotypes before and delivered numerous workshops for kids. However, I’d never really found the time to deeply explore and experiment with the process. Creating a different cyanotype every day forced me to try new things, which became more and more challenging as I approached the end of the project.
During this time, I was contacted by Moya Lloyd form the Boundary Way Project. Boundary Way is based at an allotment and is focussed on connecting people to nature, through creativity. Moya had been following my many lockdown activities on social media. Watching me decorate my home studio, venture into video making and explore new technologies. During an interview for her blog, she asked me if I had ever tried making anthotypes. I’d learned to make anythotypes in the past, but never followed it up.
When my 100 days of cyanotypes were complete, I took Moya’s suggestion and headed to my own allotment to make some anthotypes. Like cyanotypes, they rely on sunshine to make an image, but the chemicals are derived from plants that you make an emulsion from.
As a participatory artist, unable to meet with participants, I’d made a couple of instructional videos. The Boundary Way project saw them and commissioned me to make a video about the anthotype process, as part of the Postcards From The Plot series:
I also delivered my first Zoom workshop on anthotype making, for Boundary Way.
While mashing, sieving and blending fruits for my anthotypes, I was reminded of the process of making fruit leathers. When I spotted the advert for artists to submit suggestions for Make Bake Cook Book, fruit leather immediately sprung to mind. I was delighted to be accepted for the book and to take my work in a new direction. I particularly enjoyed learning about food styling and photography and pushing the capabilities of my iPhone camera.
After the publication of Make Bake Cook Book, Moya at Boundary Way asked me if I had any ideas for further videos. I suggested the fruit leather recipe and she loved the idea and commissioned another video.
I’ve really enjoyed the different directions that my work has travelled and how each project has been a continuation of the last. As a solo isolator, being part of these three creative communities has been a huge benefit to me. I have loved the communication with the other artists who have been a part of the 100 Days, Boundary Way and cook book projects.
I’ve committed to joining the 100 Days project again. This year I’m thinking of doing a textile project, to tie into some other projects that I have on the go. Now, how to link it in with food?…using fruit to make natural dyes? Potato printing?…
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