We are happy to introduce you to our most recent collaborator, artist Hannah Fletcher and Founder of The Sustainable Darkroom.
Hannah visited us at our Chiltern Street store to talk further about her organic methodology in producing striking cameraless photographs. We are currently exhibiting her new series of work Crystalline Minerals as a showcase for Craft Week.
When was the first time you felt called to do what you do?
While still at school, I was lucky to have access to a small cupboard-like darkroom. Just big enough for 1 person, at a time, to work in there. I’d spend a lot of my spare time there, with no one else in there to tell we what and what not to do; I began working very unconventionally. Fascinated by the ways that I could disrupt the traditional way of printing and introduce unpredictable results. Everything was done with a certain playfulness and curiosity. This only continued as a went to study photography at uni and it was there that I really began introducing organic materials into my way of making images. In my personal life, I am very environmentally aware and active in reducing my impact. In contrast to this, the chemicals, papers and materials that I was using in my art practice were far from environmentally friendly. This clash really came to a pinnacle in 2018. I’d started having ideas about how the darkroom could work more harmoniously with plants and the environment, but the realisation of these ideas felt far out of reach, i did not have the right knowledge or resources or support to know where to start. Then I decided to run a residency with London Alternative Photography Collective. I selected a small group of photographic practitioners to take part in a 10 day self-funded residency where we questioned, speculated and proposed what a sustainable analogue photographic practice might look like. This took place in 2019, and was the starting place for the organisation that I now run; The Sustainable Darkroom.
Who, or what, has been your greatest influence?
The natural environment, with out a doubt. There is so much to learn from ecology and nature, so much we still don’t know or understand. I am always seeing new visual encounters, new sounds, smells and sensations. As Antonio Gaudi said, “The great book, always open and which we should make an effort to read, is that of Nature.”
Do you have any daily rituals?
I usually wake up and do some yoga or go for a short walk to wake up my body. After that, each day is varied - I am rarely doing the same thing twice. I love the variation and divergence each day brings.
What clothing do you wear to work in?
Anything comfortable that doesn’t matter too much if it get’s messy. For any work that uses chemistries that stain, I will throw on an old jumper that I the-dyed a while back or an apron.
What’s your view from your workplace? What does it smell like? What can you hear?
My work place has changed a lot over the past year. I just adapt to where ever I might be. I am currently living nomadically across Europe and Morocco. My view is often of the sea, I wake up to the sound of waves, the smell of the earth, sea and wind. At the time of writing this I am sat looking out across the Cantabrian sea on the North coast of Spain, it doesn’t get light until 8am here, so I write as the day is dawning.
When you aren’t making art, what else do you make?
I forage - berries, fruits, mushrooms, seaweed, wild spinaches and sea salads. I cook and enjoy making food from what ever I have around me and what I can find. I also occasionally like to make candles and bind notebooks - both always handy as gifts.
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired?
I support other artists, listening, learning and helping those around me to find their own environmentally friendly photographic practice. I get a lot of joy out of listening and helping others achieve something that I am so passionate about, it is stimulating and uplifting. If I am not making any art work at a certain point in time, I don’t beat my self up about it. I have come to practice a very slow and meditative way of making work, meaning that I do not make so much, but what I do make is more critical, more engaged and more conscious. It is important not to just put stuff out into the work for the sake of it.
Hannah Fletcher prints available to purchase in-store only.