As mentioned in my previous post the work I've developed during and since the residency has recently attracted some attention, and not being someone who's particularly good at 'promoting' my work I thought I'd start a blog to document some of my projects. Particularly ones that are ongoing and potentially collaborative.
The last 6 months in my studio have been a bit like an archaeological dig. Finding and rediscovering old work that was presumed lost (or disintegrated!!).
These experimental pieces were instigated last year off the back of the Sustainable Darkroom residency run by London Alternative Photography Collective in April 2020. Small sculptural forms made from resin coated photographic paper, electroformed with recycled copper to then be silver plated from the fixer the photos originally emerged from. Reuniting the silver and paper. A cyclical process.
I’d put these pieces ‘somewhere safe’ and then had to pack up and move, so didn’t manage to plate them at the time. It was wonderful to discover though that they had developed over a years worth of patina which I absolutely love, and hope to retain.
The next stage was to silver plate them from the fixer...**
I am so glad I did pursue this investigation as it's one thing to have big ideas but it is really quite something when those ideas actually work!
It has definitely exceeded my expectations and I have many more experiments in the pipeline (some of which I mention in the publication This is (Still) Not a Solution) that are starting to look even more possible than I had originally thought, such as a series of silver-plated photographs, drawings and paintings. Of course, there are still plenty of issues to tackle particularly the accelerated tarnishing due to the sulphur content of the fixer but part of my work is to embrace the evolution of materials and artworks over time so I'm enjoying their transformation on an hourly, daily and weekly basis.
In the spirit of the project I have been lucky enough to engage with a number of independent photographers and darkrooms to take used fixer off their hands to recycle the silver therein, so I should be good for raw materials for quite a few more experiments and have relieved them of the trouble of disposing it. I hope this may also lead to potential creative collaborations in the future.
It's an extremely exciting move forward but the process is excruciatingly LONG and labour intensive. I'm just about to embark on a period back in the theatre world until April 2022 so further development will frustratingly be on hold for a little while. But taking a little step back I hope will allow some beneficial rumination on my train/tube journeys.
I cannot wait to get going on the next phase!
**Please note that I undertook a large amount of research and preparation to undertake this safely and used appropriate PPE and extraction at all times
Charlotte E Padgham is an experimental and sustainable artist and jewellery design/maker using the imperfect, discarded and intervention of the self as inspiration, tool, and material. Circular economy principles are an integral part of her process. Materials and waste are reused, reworked and recycled within and across her art and jewellery practices.
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