Using the outside – out and in

I am passionate about working outside and harnessing the bounty of nature to create my camera-less work. And I am not alone.

There are plethora of photo-artists who work in this way. One of my favourites is Meghann Riepenhoff – I’ve mentioned her work before – who creates wonderful cyanotypes from the ocean. Working on my latest project Harena Now, I have deliberated over whether or not my work will be viewed differently to Riepenhoff’s; if you look at the picture below of her at work you could implant me in her place to gain an understanding of how I create my images.

Meghann Riepenhoff at work: image provided by Riepenhoff to

But I have realised that despite having worked this way before I was ever aware of Riepenhoff’s practice, what spurs me on and what influences me may vary to her inspirations. Therefore, rather than feel as if I am somehow not original in technique the outcomes I create with nature will be – each one never the same as the last. 

With Littoral Drift, Riepenhoff described it as expressing her “fascination with the nature of our relationships to the landscape, the sublime, time, and impermanence” (2015) which is very much how I see my own work.

©Meghann Riepenhoff. 2016. Littoral Drift Nearshore #502

But, with Harena Now, my aim is to subtly highlight what is perhaps a lesser known environmental issue; that sand is running out.

So the purpose of my work may be more akin to the purpose of work by artists such as Mandy Barker. She has successfully highlighted the devastation plastic is having on our oceans. It is beautiful to look at but has a strong environmental message behind it.

And what is it that drives photo-artists who work in this way – to make their images (predominantly) outside? Tania Love described her cyanotype series circulation as exploring the subtext of the primacy of water in life (2016).

©Tania Love 2016: circulation – installation view

She was inspired on her daily walks in Toronto by the cracks in the pavements; they reminded her of rivers, veins, arteries. Looking into this further she discovered the “patterning of rivers beneath our feet” and how through urban development the once ravine and river-filled terrain has become flat, grid-like.

Magali Duzant’s work The Sea-Anna/Blue (2016) brings the outside in, yet still relies on UV to create the imagery. A doctored slide projector makes long exposure cyanotypes from 24 hours to a month. Again, this work explores the passage of time – something that is intertwined with my own work, whether literally or metaphorically. It’s an interesting concept, and a potential source of inspiration, particularly for those less than sunny UK days.

cyano from Magali Duzant on Vimeo.

By making images with sand, my aim is to intrigue the viewer, to lure them in with something less ordinary and provoke a reaction with the story behind the image.

My work considers how humans are continuing to impact the planet and how such an ubiquitous natural resource as sand – that perhaps has parallels with our photographic consumption – could be running out.

Read more about the environmental implications of sand mining at Harena Now.

Online References:

DUZANT, Magali. ‘The Sea’ Magali Duzant Available at: [accessed July 21]

LOVE, Tania. 2016. ‘circulation’ Tania Love Available at: [accessed July 21]

RIEPENHOFF, Meghann. ‘Littoral Drift’ Meghann Riepenhoff  Available at: [accessed July 21]

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