Lia Halloran – more inspiration

I really thought I had written about Lia Halloran’s work before this, particularly her project, Your Body is a Space that Sees.

I adore her use of the cyanotype process in these large-scale images (see Figs. 1 and 2) that have been made to showcase the impact women have had in astronomy since the distant past.

By using painted negatives imbued with the story of these women and items connected to them, combined with ideas relating to how glass astronomical plates would have been used by them, Halloran makes magical and fantastical cyanotype prints.

Fig. 1: Halloran 2018. Work from Your Body is a Space that Sees at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles
Fig. 2: © Lia Halloran 2017. The Globular Cluster, After Helen Sawyer. Cyanotype print/painted neg on paper

This work speaks to me, both for its beauty and the fascinating stories it has led me to read more about.

It is also very interesting to see Halloran at work on this project via short films on her website.

And for me, going back to look at this work in particular has sparked fresh ideas for Harena Now.

As Harena Now was evolving, I originally experimented with cyanotype (one of my favourite processes) but over time became more interested in stripping back the amount of chemicals in the making of work until I came to what I now refer to as my “Strindberg-inspired” (see Fig. 3) technique with unfixed expired black and white photo paper.

© Josie Purcell 2018. Harena Now

As there has been a very prominent growth in the interest in alternative photo processes, particularly cyanotype, in recent years, I had begun to feel a little like my work, however unique to me, may be seen as just another part of this latest ‘fad’. For that reason, I decided that I would concentrate on the lumenesque image techniques for Harena Now.

But there is still a little part of me that feels somehow I should include my passion for the cyanotype process in Harena Now.

As my first show looms, and with only one wall at a venue that is not a gallery space, I have decided to show five of my lumen works at A1 size.

But coming back to Halloran has created a cyanotype itch I may have to scratch.

Therefore, I am now researching ideas around how I can visualise, through the cyanotype process, how sand has helped us to build our civilisations.

And rather than create large scale images such as Halloran’s, I will use the cyanotype on a small scale but in multiple ways to create a larger art piece overall.

I am planning on creating this new work for my second show to be held at The Fish Factory art space and will share examples soon.

In the meantime, thanks to Lia Halloran for providing the impetus to make me go back to my love of Prussian Blue.


Figure 1: HALLORAN, Lia. 2018. Installation shot of Your Body is a Space that Sees at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles. Available at: [accessed June 11, 2018]

Figure 2: HALLORAN, Lia. 2017.The Globular Cluster, After Helen Sawyer, Cyanotype print/painted neg on paper. Available at: [accessed June 11, 2018]

Figure 3: PURCELL, Josie. 2018. Harena Now.


HALLORAN, Lia. Available at: [accessed June 11, 2018]