First Solo Exhibition – Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

“Art is contemplation. It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which nature herself is animated” – Auguste Rodin

Self Portrait, Samantha Boulanger, Cyanotype, 2019
Self Portrait, Samantha Boulanger, Cyanotype, 2019

As a part of my vocational practice module for the MA that I’m currently studying, I am invited to write blog posts about my art practice, inspirations and life as a fine art practitioner. The past few months since I started have been full of art theory writing, researching and generally landing into the MA, as well as this crazy limbo space we find ourselves in with Covid-19, so I decided to go back to basics, to when my degree came to an end…

Samantha Boulanger BA Degree Show 2019
Samantha Boulanger BA Degree Show 2019

So, let’s go back in time a little, not too far back, just to the summer of 2019 where soon after graduating with a BA in Fine Art (First Class Hons) in the July, I was invited to have a solo exhibition at Oriel Rhiannon’s Gallery, Crafts and Gold Centre in Tregaron.

The space was large and I would need time to raise the money in order to have all my work professionally framed, so I opted for the October exhibition slot with the private view being on the 12th October 2019.

Oriel Rhiannon Poster 2019
Oriel Rhiannon Poster 2019

“Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”

The title of the show was “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”, this title was a continuation on from and a culmination of all the creative roads that had been wandered down during the final two years of my degree leading up to the final exhibition for the BA.

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, Samantha Boulanger, Cyanotype, 2019
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, Samantha Boulanger, Circular Cyanotype, 2019

This, my first solo exhibition, would be a superb opportunity for me to not only exhibit so close to home (I live only 6 miles away), but also to really celebrate the work that I created during the final two years of my BA, plus creating a bridge between the degree and the MA that I would begin studying in the September. The work included circular cyanotypes, stone lithographs and digital black & white photographs.

Homeward bound, Samantha Boulanger, Stone Lithograph, 2018
Homeward bound, Samantha Boulanger, Stone Lithograph, 2018

The private view was extremely well attended, with a number of sales of my black & white photographs. The whole exhibition experience was indeed very interesting and a real eye opener. Something I was able to touch upon in my essay during the first semester of the MA.

Aiming High, Samantha Boulanger. photograph, 2019
Aiming High, Samantha Boulanger, Photograph, 2019

In my BA dissertation, I talk about how the circular cyanotypes express the dynamics and contradictions between the interconnectedness and isolation experienced whilst immersed in the natural world.

The desire was to convey the feeling of being lost and found, pushing boundaries, with explorations through both printmaking and photographic processes, ending with something that was suspended somewhere between the two, simultaneously creating a sense of connection with all things and belonging.

Slowly this cyanotype process had given way to a zen-like insight into the possibilities of overlap of innovative exploration and inspiring imagery.

Solo Show Oriel Rhiannons 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannon’s 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannons 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannon’s 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannons 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannon’s 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannons 2019
Solo Show Oriel Rhiannon’s 2019

I felt so proud to see all my work from the last two years beautifully framed and hanging on the gallery walls. The cyanotypes were greatly admired, with people coming up to me to let me know which ones were their favourites. It was a busy PV, both my own social media advertising campaign and the support of those I know really helped, the wine flowed as did the positive feedback.

Inspiration

The inspiration for my work definitely comes from my love of nature. There is a Welsh phrase; “Dod yn ôl at fy nghoed” that means “To return to a balanced state of mind”, it literally translates as; “I return to my trees”. This really resonated personally, being in nature, particularly woodlands and forests feels to me as essential as breathing, it certainly brings me back to a balance state of mind.

Elevation, Samantha Boulanger, Photograph, 2018
Elevation, Samantha Boulanger, Photograph, 2018

The feeling of ‘other wordliness’ and escape in nature, although it is much more than that, it is like being suspended in time and space and yet grounded at the same time, the soul being fed and nourished, the smell, the sounds, the sense of well-being and being at one with everything.

Juxtaposing this, inspiration also comes from the instinctive ‘hunter and gatherer’ feeling of foraging, there is an innate connection with the planet and to oneself, heightened when out bimbling around a forest or walking on the beach. The sunshine is particularly alluring, it enhances the sights, sensations and sounds, it directs the gaze towards interesting natural treasures and captures the myriad of textures, shapes, colours, tones and the interplay between light and dark through the camera’s eye.

The journey so far is just the beginning, with so much more exploration, experimentation and research to be had. There is a strong feeling of endless creative possibilities….

Infuse, Samantha Boulanger, Cyanotype, 2019
Infuse, Samantha Boulanger, Cyanotype, 2019

Thanks for reading… 

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