After scanning my negs and images and reflecting on my experiments and work during my residency @pastureprojectspace which had a bit of an abrupt ending (thanks again covid).
Before I went to Sudbury I’d been going to The Garon Shed and getting help (and the tools) to build myself a 5x4 pinhole camera. These are some of the images I took with it. I developed the negatives in water collected from the river (part of River Stour) and willow leaves and bark found on the ground around the meadows. I hadn’t used 5x4 film since the late 90’s, the pinhole camera was new and only a prototype of sorts, so some teething problems with that, and then the plant-based developer that I had to guesstimate the developing time with. You see so many variables that could go wrong just to get one image. And so many things did go wrong. But the beauty of a residency is that you’ve got the time, you just have to load the film again and go back out in the field immediately and give it another go. 
And there’s still so much to improve on. But at least this was a start.

Written records of The Sudbury Water Meadows go back as far as the 12th century. In 1897 it became The Common Lands Charity after the Freemen were raising concerns about the lack of management of the land and the riverside. The history is really fascinating and I had the absolute pleasure of going for a half-day walk and talking with one of the most knowledgeable and passionate (now retired) rangers Adrian Walters. 
The meadows have never been used as arable cropland so it’s never been ploughed, sprayed or abused with chemicals and so the soil is highly fertile. The meadows are managed naturally by the combination of cattle gracing in the summers and flooding during winter and this makes these meadows exceptionally biodiverse with many grasses, plants and flowers present that are now rare varieties that you won’t find in many other places in East Anglia.

When thinking about making cyanotypes and lumens informed by this history and land I really didn’t want to harm, pull or cut any plants so these were made by just holding the paper behind or laying it under the grasses. I did put some between a contact frame but gently enough so they would ping back after the exposure. It was just a different way approach, and I really like the otherworldliness results.

The residency building used to be an old dairy called Braybrooks. In the past, the cattle would have been walked back and forth down the street to the meadows twice a day. Cows are, and always have been part of this landscape and I couldn’t stop photographing them whilst thinking about how much (animal) farming has changed since the early days of these pastures. My workspace used to be the milking room and If I wasn’t out in the meadows or head down in the bathroom turned darkroom, that’s where you would find me doing messy toning experiments and such like.

I ended up with so many cut-offs, failed cyanotype pieces, and failed toning experiments that I wound up doing these colour swatch-inspired works with my ‘waste material’. I think after doing so much maths calculations, note taking and seriously measuring out this and that, that I just needed to have a few moments to create something without any science to think about.

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