Lumen prints in lockdown

Like for so many of us, the pandemic disrupted my daily art practice. Early on I began working from my living room, mostly with materials I had to hand. I struggled to focus on my normal projects, so began exploring art forms that I was less experienced with as a way of keeping busy and staying present.

During lockdown after a walk or run (my precious allotted daily exercise!), I collected flowers or leaves in the Hackney Marshes to make lumen prints with. I loved the process of making these images – perhaps more than the final results. Brightly coloured flowers are pressed behind glass against photo paper that turns pale blue and peach in the sunlight. The moisture in the flowers is released with heat and pressure to interact with the paper, creating tones and shapes that are out of my control. When the flowers are removed from the paper, the ghost image that is left behind mimics a purple-tinged X-ray looking into delicate organic structures. These initial images are striking, vibrant – but their colour changes when washed in a fixer solution to stop the paper from continuing to develop, securing the image on the paper.

I’ve grown fond of the muted brown, yellow and pink tones in my final images. They feel timeless. The flowers and leaves transform into something strange, otherworldly. Something slightly melancholic. These images have become memories of our uncertain times in a changing world, and of the beauty we still find – and make – within it. My heart tightens when I look at them, and I’m grateful.