Going Around in Circles – 19 Mar 19

“Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next.” ― Joseph M. Marshall III, The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History

I was going to write about the colour blue and my fascination with it but then I was inspired to change the subject today. I have been really enjoying my art history module; Photography Begins; European Genius and the Birth of a New Aesthetic. The lectures are so stimulating and I find the history of photography itself extremely fascinating, however, I have to say, I am not so keen on writing about it in essay form 😉

Anyway, during today’s lecture we touched upon George Eastman (1854 – 1932) and his 1889 invention of the Kodak Brownie Model One dry plate camera.

“The Kodak produced circular snapshots, two and a half inches in diameter. The Kodak was sold already loaded with enough paper-based roll film to take one hundred photographs. After the film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory for the film to be developed and printed.The camera, reloaded with fresh film, was then returned to its owner, together with a set of prints. To sum up the Kodak system, Eastman devised the brilliantly simple sales slogan: ‘You press the button, we do the rest.’” (https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/kodak-no-1-circular-snapshots/).

Photo from https://www.brownie-camera.com/31.shtml

The images created with this camera were circular and this really appeals to me. There is something really pleasing about imagery within a circle, no sharp edges, softly held within the curves.

Photo from https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/kodak-no-1-circular-snapshots/

During the past year or so I have found a few artists making use of this wonderful shape for their work. One of which is a circular landscape etching by Australian artist Bonita Ely (1946-). I like how the circular image isn’t exact, creating an almost organic feel, much like the landscape she is depicting.

Bonita Ely, Untitled (Circular Landscape) 1977, Etching and Aquatint

I feel really drawn to this circular shape, feels very symbolic of nature and indeed life. With its cyclical flow, what goes around comes around, endings automatically becoming new beginnings. I just love it.

Early last year, I naturally started to lean towards the circular image, drawn to its ‘all seeing eye’ like quality. One of my favourite images is Light Levels (below) that I took during my second year, of the mezzanine balcony and sky light within the School of Art building, taken from the ground floor looking up through the majestic ‘eye’ of this grand old building. It has and will probably always signify the feeling of awe and wonder I have felt during and carried with me throughout studying my degree here.

Samantha Boulanger, Light Levels, Digital Photograph 2018

This fascination of the circular form has brought me here, to now, with my cyanotypes;

Samantha Boulanger Cyanotype
Samantha Boulanger – Self Portrait – Cyanotype

I still have a long way to go with these, continuously developing my style using this wonderful yet slightly, capricious process… I have to say though the fun is definitely in the making.

Samantha Boulanger Cyanotype
Samantha Boulanger – Luna – Cyanotype


A few more artists that I have discovered using this circular imagery in their work who are inspiring me along the way;

Jennifer Brunjes New Orleans, LA From One Cyanotype and gold leaf 14 x 11
Jennifer Brunjes New Orleans, LA From One Cyanotype and gold leaf
Fran Sanchez Montesinos 19Jan19
Fran Sanchez Montesinos – Albumen print on cardboard from collodion negative. Petzval lens.
Rosie Emerson – Ebony – Cyanotype
Chloe McCarrick – Lunar Lady – Gold Leaf Cyanotype

I am so happy to have very recently (today!) discovered Rosie Emerson and Chloe McCarrick, absolutely blown away by their work and styles. It is so nice to see that I am not the only one who is perhaps a little obsessed with this process, likes the idea of playing with gold leaf and creating it all within a circular form. I am discovering new and exciting artists all the time. Very encouraging and inspiring.

What’s next?

Continuing with my cyanotypes, I need to create a lot more now in preparation for our end of degree show (opening on the 18th May!). Mantra du jour is ‘Keep it simple’. Plus I have to create a suite of four prints for the extra 10 credits, so I am currently attempting to create some photo etchings.

I am almost at the end of writing my art history essay (and my tether 😉 ), when this is complete I will then begin writing my dissertation.

I think I will be a very busy bee over the Easter break… hoping to be able to take a little time off to re-charge too though.

Not long to go now!!? 😀