World Cyanotype Day in Australia – collaboration across continents

Photography / Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart

World Cyanotype Day really IS happening all over the world. Australian Cyanotypists Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart in Melbourne collaborates with A Smith Gallery in USA.


Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart.

Tell us a little about who you are and what you do!

We are both artists and teachers of photography. We have completed a higher academic study in photography, artists books and photobooks. Our practice is concerned with human interactions with, and stories about, the landscape in Australia.

“The cyanotype allows us to create unique handmade work that utilizes the direct sunlight and objects found in particular sites or places in the landscape.”

Cyanotype Day is celebrated each year on the last Saturday in September. It’s been running since 2015. How did you find out about Cyanotype day?

We have been members of the Facebook page for some time but have not submitted work to the international event until now. Last year we curated an Australian cyanotypists’ exhibition to celebrate WCD at the Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne – download the exhibition catalogue here. This year we have worked with Gail Neumann to curate another Australian show that will be forwarded to the A Smith Gallery.

How do you collaborate with A Smith Gallery?

This will be our first time we have sent work in for the WCD at A Smith Gallery and we look forward to adding Australian works to the international celebration.

Is cyanotypes your favourite process?

From the deep blue to the delicate pale blues of the cyanotype, there is poetry in this handmade process.

“We enjoy the freedom of working as it does not require complex technology or a darkroom.”

Even though this suggests a simple process we have found that the image created can be multilayered and full of meaning. There is also a creative potential through the diversity of materials on which the image can be formed including fabric.

How has the success been so far?

For over 25 years we have made cyanotypes on both paper and fabric and have used both photographic negatives and/or found objects. Our feeling of success is measured by the enjoyment we get from creating artists books and images from this process.

Under the southern sun. Installation at Maud Gallery. cyanotype
Under the southern sun. Installation at Maud Gallery.

What have the reactions from the visitors to the exhibition been so far?

Visitors are always amazed by the diversity of image production that photographers bring to this medium. Some makers are concerned with creating technically perfect beautiful images while others just work experimentally and create expressive images that extend the medium’s visual language.

Any final words to anyone who wants to take part?

The Cyanotype is something anyone can do … and when confident the maker will find it a diversity of approaches to their own personal expression and creativity.

Tidal. An artists book by Cooper Spowart. cyanotype
Tidal. An artists book by Cooper Spowart.
Australian Banquet 1788 by Cooper Spowart. cyanotype
Australian Banquet 1788 by Cooper Spowart.
Skop. Photo artists book by Doug Spowart.
Skop. Photo artists book by Doug Spowart.
Super Nova. Artists book by Victoria Cooper.
Super Nova. Artists book by Victoria Cooper.
Starfish and wallaby by Victoria Cooper cyanotype
Starfish and wallaby by Victoria Cooper
Read more about cyanotypes
Beginners guide to cyanotypesBlueprint to cyanotypes – Exploring a historical alternative photographic process
by Malin Fabbri and Gary Fabbri
A well illustrated step-by-step guide to cyanotypes.
 
A lot more information on the process, chemicals, coating, exposure, printing, making negatives, washing and troubleshooting is available in this book.
 
Strongly recommended for beginners
 

2 thoughts on “World Cyanotype Day in Australia – collaboration across continents”

  1. It’s great to see momentum for this event taking place across different continents. I’ve being making Cyanotypes on paper for a couple of years. However it was my first time on cotton, so thought why not try it out for the WCD event. It was surprisingly easy to do and came out splendid.

  2. I love the idea of a special global “day” set aside for practitioners of relatively obscure pursuits. I was enchanted by Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day and finally began to participate, thrilled in my imagination by the thought of people all over the world out making their pinhole captures on the same day 🙂

    Now, I’m pleased to be made aware of a World Cyanotype Day!

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