For this commission, I wanted to use the images and life stories gathered as part of the project as my starting point. As an Iranian, I carry a lot of memories from my homeland and I understand the value of personal photographs and their associated memories. I have been carrying family photographs with me all my life and they are hugely significant to me. I am continually intrigued by photographs that have a physical presence in the world that are treasured, fragile and timebound. Their materiality translates the abstract and representational ‘photography’ into special objects that are kept and stored for specific reasons.
Working as a resident artist and photographer at Caldmore Community Gardens in Walsall (known locally as Karma Gardens) I developed a series of participatory workshops for a group of 10 participants exploring practical photography and considering its changing role in our lives. The photography workshops were a gateway to access and connect with the local community at Karma Gardens.
As my project developed I was clear that I wanted to engage participants in image-making and finding ways for them to share their own stories. This kind of process is often emotional and can potentially be therapeutic as people revisit important memories and places from their lives.
For the work Traces, participants shared their family photographs and stories that were important or meaningful to them. I used these as the main source for my work, emphasising their physical presence and the fragility of memory. I wanted to use leaves as they are a symbol of growth, but at the same time are fragile and perishable like our own memories.
Traces was first developed as a series of photographs printed directly onto leaves using a process called Chlorophyll Printing.
This involved placing a negative of a photo on the leaf which is then exposed to sunlight over a couple of weeks. The pigments of the plant darken, resulting in a wonderful ghostly portrait.
Because the project was developed in winter there was very little sunlight for this to be very effective so I started to explore using Liquid Light as an alternative printing medium. Liquid Light is a silver-based sensitizer designed for applying on any surface, exposing with an enlarger and processing in conventional black & white chemistry.
The final work Traces is a series of handmade prints that combine participant's photos with a wide variety of leaves that I collected from Caldmore Community Garden.