Olive Dean and lumenography

Olive Dean talks about her favourite process lumenography and shows some of her work in lumen prints.

Writer and photography / Olive Dean

Olive Dean
COFFEE FIX, Coffee series, Unique print, lumen print by Olive Dean

About Olive Dean

Olive Dean, born UK , grew up and was educated in Edinburgh. After various pursuits in UK and abroad she trained in painting at Edinburgh as a mature student, graduating BA.Hons,1989. Not being able to fund herself by art work alone, a series of casual work followed including private teaching, sales agent at exhibitions etc, exhibiting where possible. In the last three years or so, alternative photography seems to have taken over, using camera-less procedures such as lumenography and cyanotype, also producing analogue  work and pinholes. She found the website AlternativePhotography.com very useful when she started out her pursuit of the processes. This summer, 2015, Edinburgh hosted an important series of  mainly alternative photography exhibitions, one of which, “ACTINIC”  accepted work.

Olive Dean lumen print
HOSTA LEAVES, lumen print by Olive Dean


My favourite process is the lumenograph: I find these work best on expired black and white papers, (mainly acquired online) and it’s fun to discover what varied results can be obtained by trying different brands or qualities. A variety of subtle hues can be obtained in the images, when combining procedures such as cyanotype and lumenograph.

The old adage “not an exact science” is an apt one: the interplay of randomisation, accident and “controlled chance” to quote Jackson Pollock is for me exciting!

Also the whims of solar power here in Scotland is an unpredictable if sometimes frustrating addition to my artistic practice. Failure is not infrequent! My work is mainly inspired by nature in all its forms – it infallibly provides us with the best in design even in the most mundane of surroundings; the only requirement is closer observation and a good eye.
Being an experienced gardener and plantswoman helps. I am also inspired by the work of English botanist and photographic pioneer Anna Atkins (1799-1871) who produced wonderful botanic cyanotypes: Edinburgh was fortunate to see some of her original work recently exhibited at Stills gallery.

See more work in Olive Dean’s gallery.

1 thought on “Olive Dean and lumenography”

  1. Lovely work…! I found Lunaria and Seaweed Ballet 1 from your cyanotypes gallery particularly engaging. I love the air of mystery this work generates.

    Where might I obtain some expired paper if I wished to experiment with this technique? And what exactly should I be looking for…?


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