After a hiatus, I'm back in the darkroom, with the lights on and reworking some black and white prints.
I've using the two bath process of potassium ferricyanide and hypo solution. The trade name for the product is Farmers Reducer and it's available from Silverprint in London.
The aim is to brighten over developed prints by adding sparkle and subtle shades of cream.
This technique works best on prints that are not too contrasty and have an even range of tones. The effect is noticeable after 5-8 seconds; this is my average time of use.
Be careful with prints that have pale or under developed areas. Skyline and clouds are liable to disappear off the silver horizon. There is also the risk of staining depending upon how you had previously fixed and washed your print.
If you have multiple prints of an image, then this is a good technique to practice in the light of a darkroom. Keep a master untreated for future reference.
Practice almost makes perfect.
However nothing beats getting the exposure correct in camera. This means registering a good range of black and white tones, the highs and the lows.
Practice can then make perfect.
I've just visited the wonderful Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern. My third visit in as many months. No other visual artist, excepting film makers, have inspired me over the years and decades.
This is a great opportunity to reassess a seminal artist in a new curatorial setting. There is a lot to see. This chronological survey illustrates Klee's deceptively simple, but blissfully imagined approach to art and life. The playfulness of taking a line for a walk, the discovery of colour, the subtle humour, the musicality of image - all of these are richly showcased. Get in close and let the images breathe and resonate.
I was intrigued by Puppets (Colourful on Black), 1930. I don't associate Klee with the flesh and blood, he seems to be operating on another spiritual plane. This image however seems to pre-figure Francis Bacon. Raw and wild.
The following slide slow is a homage to Paul Klee, my old and wise friend, who I first befriended in the early 1990s. In 2000, I travelled to Switzerland and Bern to follow in the steps of the master. At my first solo exhibition in 2002, I exhibited a painting called Angelus Novus that was based on Walter Benjamin's evocative description of a Klee print:
"A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."
I've revisited and supervised an edit of In Mercy For A Trespass. This is a short film that will be released in 2014. It's about the first stage of a Cultural Olympiad project at Manor Farm in Ruislip, Hillingdon and culminated in Ea Eard (the title for the redesigned project). It's about the artists and community involved in building a ceramic installation on the 11th century motte and bailey site. A manorial court operated on the site and dispensed justice to the community for their various sins including trespassing on the Lords's land. In 2012 another form of "trespass" took place as Elinor Brass, Emily Orley, Fabiola Knowles and Constantine Gras built a contemporary installation on the listed heritage site, evoking the history of the past and connecting with the environmental setting and the theme of water.