Photography in the garden with Jason Evans
As the mellow amber tones of mid-autumn infuse our garden, it presents an opportunity to take stock and appreciate some of the inspiring art and craft activities it has played host to in recent times. We are always welcoming of practitioners eager to share our beautiful natural environ and happy to learn from their example. Indeed, such mutual creativity is core to the very spirit of our place, nestled as we are in the South East corner of Northdown Park.
Since 2016, Ramsgate artist Jason Evans has run photography based activities at the Garden Gate Project, with a view to develop visual awareness in an increasingly image saturated world. The workshops are creative and informal, no prior experience required, and attended by regulars, volunteers, support workers, carers, staff, visitors and community friends. The emphasis is on the process of working and playing together in relation to the growing environment. The Garden is usually the source of subject and inspiration. The projects have been exhibited locally including shows at Cliftonville RESORT artists’ studio complex, as well as at the music venue ELSEWHERE. More recently a selection of images was exhibited at Primeyarc, an artspace in a former Debenhams, in Great Yarmouth alongside a Jan Van Huysum from the National Gallery.
The first project was entitled Tool Shed Dark Room, which saw a storage space blacked out to make photograms. Traditionally this process uses a photographic enlarger, but with no electricity on site at that time, a digital camera flash was improvised to expose photographic paper overlaid with patterns made from plant matter to create positive-colour-digital and negative-black & white-analogue images, simultaneously. Sounds more complicated than it was! We are currently experimenting with our own recycled paper, sunlight and chlorophyll rich juice, extracted from nasturtium leaves, in an effort to reduce toxic environmental impact of working with traditional photographic materials using a process called Anthotypes, invented by Mary Somerville in the 1840s.
Flower Power, introduced garden goers to a Hasselblad camera and medium format film. Interpretations of traditional flower arrangements were constructed and photographed, while local artist Charlie Evaristo-Boyce ( https://www.charlieevaristoboyce.co.uk ) held screen printing workshops to create plant themed backdrops. A successful end of year show offered prints for sale, which covered our film and processing costs. We also produced a zine, selling out 200 copies.
Together We Grow brought Exeter based artist Brendan Barry of Positive Light Projects ( www.positivelightprojects.com ) and his unique caravan camera into the garden, making paper negatives and direct positive prints. Drawing on Evans’ experience working with magazines it was decided we could produce fashion photographs. Gardeners dressed up in a range of Italian designs. These were complimented with still lives over an intense 10 days heatwave and eventually published by Numero Hommes Berlin.
Most recently the garden hosted Margate based Open School East for a workshop with experimental film maker James Holcombe ( https://openschooleast.org/ose-x-james-holcombe-x-garden-gate/ ) and a series of sustainably driven workshops with Athelstan Road based, youth led art group Despacito. ( https://openschooleast.org/programmes/despacito-art-school/ )
Other write up links:
https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/jason-evans-the-garden-gate-project-photography-13021 We have all immensely enjoyed participating in the projects Jason has run and greatly appreciated his inspiring insights. If you haven't already, then please do take the opportunity to visit us one week day between 10am and 3pm, or on one of our open or event days that are advertised on our website and social media. Happy growing!