Kathy Hinde

19 August, 2022

Wigan & Leigh research trip – part 4


I developed some of my bolex films of wild flowers with a stew made from Ribwort plantain, based on what I had learnt on a series of online workshops with Curioso Lab. The main active ingredient from the plants are their Phenols, and each plant has its own a “total phenolic content” which needs looking up to work out the quantities. 

I was lucky to be boating in very sunny weather, which provides ideal conditions for creating phytograms, which is a technique invented by Karel Doing. To create a phytogram, leaves and flowers are soaked in vitamin C and washing soda and therefore contain all the ingredients of an ‘eco’ developer.  To create images, reel out some film (in broad daylight!) thus fully exposing it, and then place the soaked leaves and flowers directly onto the emulsion side of the film, to partially develop it. This creates a reaction between the chemistry of the plants, the ingredients they were soaked in and the film emulsion. This process is all about the physical contact between the plants and the film, and not so much to do with light – hence the name Phytogram.  After leaving it for about 45 mins in the sun, then fixing it, the results are quite wonderful – with some sections of the film not too dissimilar to the leaf skeleton films I started out with. I also made some phytograms on photo paper and some cyanotypes, working with sunlight, the weather and the unique chemistry of the plants surrounding me.

Phytogram on photo paper, processing in the sun
Phytogram on photo paper, fixed and dried

During my residency, I was delighted to be invited to host a workshop at The Turnpike Gallery in Leigh. This worked brilliantly as they have a new Garden Project in Civic square, outside their entrance. Here we met Liz Brown, who leads the gardening group and talked to us about some of the planting that focused on medicinal plants and those that can be used to create inks and dyes, which was fascinating. Thanks to everyone who turned up to make images, and to the staff at The Turnpike Gallery and Open Eye Hub for making it happen. Here are some images from the workshop.

More updates soon to include –

Researching at the Archives and meeting with Barbara Wilkinson from the UK Herb Society.

This post is 4 of 4… find previous episodes here.

These blog posts document a two week research trip in August 2022, working towards a new work for Light Night Wigan & Leigh 2022, with thanks to Gemma and Jude at Things That Go On Things, Wigan Council, Canal & River Trust, The Turnpike Gallery.