Three sustainable photography workshops including seaweed, fynbos and botanical printing.

15 Mar 2024
three sustainable workshops
15 Mar 2024

The photography section was busy this term with three photography workshops taking place. The idea behind the sustainable photography movement is to do research and practice into ways of working in darkroom based processes that are potentially less harmful to the environment than traditional analogue and darkroom photography.

The first one was run by our Tierney Fellow of 2024, Vanessa Cowling. We hosted our colleagues from WITS and Market Photo Workshops (MPW). This workshop was run as part of the Tierney fellowship workshops which took place at Michaelis from 22 to 24th January. Vanessa ran a Lumen print and phytogram workshop attended by fellows Simphiwe Fuwe Molefe (MPW) and Mzwanele Tshishonga (Wits). Also in attendance were Jean Brundit (UCT), Svea Josephy (UCT), Bekie Ntini (MPW), Loyiso Oldjohn (MPW) and Jabulani Dlamini (MPW). This was a great learning experience for all and a chance for the three intuitions to share skills and research.

The Tierney Fellowship workshops which took place over the next two days were attended by guests who made input into the fellows work including Paul Weinberg, Tato, Jo Ractliffe, Thato Mogotsi and Jodi Windvogel. We remain grateful to the Tierney Family Foundation for the generous sponsorship of this important initiative.

In February an exciting one day workshops in the area of sustainable photography / print took place at Michaelis. These were attended by students and staff from print making and photography including Fritha Langerman, Stephané Conradie, Svea Josephy, Jean Brundrit and Sitaara Stodel. The workshop led by Anneke Van Rooyen was an investigation into botanical printing (sometimes known as eco printing). Here we learned how to make a mordant and used plants, heat and steam to create a permanent impression onto cloth, using the tannins from the plants, leaves and stalks. Using the sustainable photographic garden we were able to pint images of these plants.

In March we were joined by Michaelis alumna, Jess Hodengarde who has completed an MA at Glasgow College of Art since completing her undergraduate degree at Michalis. Jess ran a seaweed film developer and fynbos paper developer workshop. Here we made a seaweed ‘soup’ which brewed for several days before we added washing soda and vitamin C to it.  This allowed us to process expired film with varying degrees of success. There is still work to be done in adapting these recipes as South African seaweed seems to react differently to the seaweed in Scotland. Where we had more striking success (and some surprising results) was with the fynbos developer which Jess produced using local plants. These came out beautifully.

Thank you to all the students, teachers and researchers who gave generously of their time and knowledge and took part in these workshops.