Featured Photographer: Nettie Edwards – “Grave Goods” — Analog Forever Magazine
At its core, Nettie Edward’s work is about death. But, again, isn’t that most art? When I came across his enigmatic object-based images, they had been retweeted in my timeline with the intriguing title “Grave Goods.” I immediately needed to know more about what I was watching and how they appeared. Composed largely of photograms made in the anthotype and chlorophyll processes, they do not necessarily strike you as being photographic in the modern sense of the term. However, they connect you with a sense of the past, memory and loss.
The anthotypes, made from an emulsion of natural materials, often flowers or fruits, are exposed to the sun until the reflections disappear under UV light, leaving a positive impression in its wake. Chlorophyll prints are a related process where the image is exposed directly onto a sheet, rather than onto a piece of coated paper. These processes are, by their very nature, transitory. Since their creation, they have been in a constant state of disrepair. You can try interceding on them to prolong their lifespan with fixing sprays and UV filter lenses, but the images will inevitably continue their slow fade into darkness. For Edwards, it is this very impermanence that makes these processes so fascinating.
“I knew that when I started this work, I was going to work with an ephemeral process, which was at the center of it. I wanted to explore my relationship with this impermanence. It became the key to what I was doing and the key to the conversations I would have with people who came to visit my studio and garden. It was a real shock to find that people had very emotional responses, and that was a real gift. I think the making of ephemeral images and the acceptance that images aren’t going to last forever raises a lot of interesting questions. I feel like despite the challenges of working with process, of working with impermanence, I think there’s still so much to discover, discover and explore. It has deeply enriched my practice to say, “I’m going to work in nature’s way, I’m going to explore what it means to me too.”