The darkoom

 

“Ultimately, photography is the crafting of light.”

Alasdair Foster
Steward of the Darkroom

We tend to think of photography as an abstract medium, whose images are easily reproduced and circulate across our many screens. But as demonstrated in many of our stories, there is a material stratum to photography. It has its origins in a hands-on chemical process, along with manual techniques such as hand-colouring. Given the ubiquity of the photographic image, many artists today return to its material origins in order to give depth to their work.

Enjoy stories of the photographic craft.

Martin Hill and Philippa Jones: Encircling the world - Alasdair Foster writes about the New Zealand photography duo that crafts geometry from the landscape.
Rediscovering the salt of the earth in COVID times - According to Pamela See, Joachim Froese revives the nineteenth-century craft of salt printing to capture the ethos of the COVID-19 epoch.
Joachim Froese ✿ The Sunshine of Yesterday  - Adam Monohon writes about an artist who uses the ancient art of salt photography to capture today's materiality.
Judith Crispin ✿ Picturing the gentleness of death - Alasdair Foster writes about the Lumachrome Glass Printing by Judith Crispin that renders decay in stillness.
Harry Nankin ✿ A starling falls to earth - A series of shadowgrams represent the poignant fate of a lone starling, once part of a shimmering murmuration.
Australia Phoenix: A Cosmology - Susan Purdy takes on a journey into deep time, using the medium of photogram to trace the history of a landscape from creation story to recent devastating bushfires.
Ulos through the viewfinder - Dewie Sartika Bukit describes a photography project that aims to inspire a new generation to admire the distinct ulos weaving tradition of Tono Batak.
Holding hands: Love in a time of social distancing - Rhett D'Costa makes a photograph that reflects on the status of hemiparasites and Indian same-sex love in the Australian bush.   
Eucalypt meets indigo in Kanazawa – with gold leaf - Photographer Siri Hayes travelled to Kanazawa to combine Australia eucalypt-dyed threads with those in Japanese indigo.
The art of saving seals: April Surgent’s glass etchings - Charles Littnan writes about April Surgent's glass etchings, dedicated to the marine life discovered during her research in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Erika Diettes: Relics in amber - Alasdair Foster witnesses the work of Erika Diettes who cast objects of the disappeared in Colombia in a community memorial.
Call Them Home - Marziya Mohammedali writes about her installation that identifies refugees who have died while held in detention by Australia.
James Tylor: Te Moana Nui: Navigating time and space - Te Moana Nui is a daguerreotype series that navigates through the cultural history of the Pacific Ocean.
Kete photography - Kirsten Lyttle has developed a photography/weaving practice that reflects indigenous values of respect and reciprocity.
Casting shadows: Areta Wilkinson and Mark Adams at the National - Harriet Litten reviews the exhibition by jeweller Areta Wilkinson and photographer Mark Adams that navigate biculturalism through an inventive combination of material and image.
Taonga and Photography in the Post-Treaty Settlement Era: A Case Study of Photograms by Mark Adams and Areta Wilkinson - Damian Skinner writes about the collaboration between jeweller Areta Wilkinson and photographer Mark Adams which use photograms as a way of "capturing" taonga.
Pink Terraces - Dean Smith is a Castlemaine ceramicist and photographer whose work seeks to interpret landscape. The Pink Terraces series reflects on a distinct geographical feature of New Zealand, his home country.
Hanging issues: Collaboration between photography and Lana paper making - A Kurdish photographer, doing a PhD at Melbourne's RMIT University, learns paper making in a northern Thai village in order to realise the emotions of the images gathered from the conflict in the Middle East. Rushdi Anwar shares the thinking behind this unique artistic alchemy.
Janina Green’s Still Life with Klytie Pate - A beautiful hand-coloured photo by Janina Green featuring a vase by ceramicist Klytie Pate, an orange peel, a pearl necklace, and, of course, a bunch of wattle.
Eclipsing tradition: China’s Chen Qiulin on art and rapid urbanisation - After Ai Weiwei's iconic performance of dropping the Han Dynasty Urn, it reassuring to see vases treated with such respect in this remarkable suite of photos.
Islam on Australian shores - Philip George creates surfboards inspired by Islamic architecture.