The Watershed (and other cyanotypes) - Leeming and Paterson

The Watershed

A cyanotype map depicting the waterways flowing into the hydro electric system, from substantial bodies of water such as Loch Doon and Loch Ken to the tiny sources, burns and tributaries that gather strength as they descend from the disparate hills and glens. By removing all other traces of landform a lung-like skeletal form emerges, illustrating how much the surrounding geography has been and continues to be, defined by water. Morag herself has lived in this landscape for more than two decades and the map holds a quarter of a century of her stories, like an old friend. Tracing small streams and larger burns alike, she was brimful of memories, remnants, fragments, scars of happiness and pain. Plans, regrets, births, and losses. The work was inspired by workshops undertaken during the residency period with local groups, and from a 3D landform profile map of the landscape before the system was built, which is now kept at Tongland Power station.

Having time dedicated to working on a residency is a luxurious indulgence, an opportunity to learn, immerse and play on a scale rarely met.

I spent a long time in the studio - indoors and out - experimenting with cyanotype prints using a mixture of man-made and natural objects.  First of all on pre-treated paper, then using cyanotype medium and photographic paper from Fotospeed, and finally on treated fabric.  Along the way I experimented with toning, using everything from traditional liquids such as tannin, tea and coffee, to playing with onion skins and discarded purple cabbage water.

A huge thanks to John Herlinger at Fotospeed, both for his advice on cyanotypes and his endless patience printing the other photographic works for the exhibition.

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