An Interview with Angela Allison
Angela Allison, is an up and coming British artist whose work sits on the crux of Image Making and Fine Art. Her work is both a construction and destruction of the medium of photography; Allison's use of the Mordançage technique emphasises the beauty of texture, colour, and form.
"Tell me about your practice."
I think my work would fall into the category of fine art; I work primarily with alternative process and analogue media. I have just graduated from City of Glasgow College with a BA (Hons) Photography degree. My most recent work uses the mordancage technique as a way of creating photographic objects through destruction, I also experiment with mixed media projects and the hand colouring of photographic prints.
"It's fascinating to think of photography as a form of destruction. How did you get involved in the arts?"
I spent a lot of time trying out different careers, but photography was the only one that seemed to stick so I made the decision to go back to college. I started out at Kelvin College in Glasgow, where the darkroom was not only taught, but promoted as an art. It opened up so many opportunities for further study which, in turn, helped me realise that there were many more avenues for my photography; not everything has to be commercial or for profit.
"Thinking of the dark room as an art in itself is such a fantastic concept. Your thoughts on Photography align very much with the very concept of Beyond Photography. How would you explain your work?"
I would say it’s very experimental, I enjoy making images where the process has more control than I do; there is a certain freedom in not knowing what the outcome will be. I try and use as little digital manipulation as possible, re-photographing the prints for my own records is a far as I like to take it and maybe the odd edit depending on the print/scan quality. When using the mordancage technique there is an element of performance in the creation of images; it’s easy to allow the images to become fully reanimated and disappear, by recording the lifting process this then becomes the only record of the creation and destruction of the photograph.
"What are the themes your work promotes?"
Most of my projects are centred around an exploration of how the temporal can present itself in photography. By looking at time and technique in image making, we can see how the camera can be used to create images which contain unseen and compressed elements, but it can also create the impression of motion in photographic images. It’s this idea of temporal motion that I feel offers the greatest freedom to create unique and unrepeatable photographs. By looking into the history of photography and to the images of Wedgwood, Niépce, and Daguerre there was the constant need to fix images, to make them permanent; experimenting with the balance of science and art to produce pictorial archival documents. In my work, I wanted to look at the reverse; could I free a photograph from its fixed state and create images that are almost lost before they have really started to form?
"Your work often portrays dark flowing vessels against a stark white background, what do these transfixing pieces aim to convey?"
I began experimenting with creating camera-less images by making photograms and using a bleach-etch process to manipulate the final photograph. I have tried to keep the veils of emulsion attached to the print; where the darkest part meets the light, and in the process allow the viewer to interpret the image and see what they want to see. By using alternative processes, it is possible to make infinite and unique versions of a single image.
"Who would you consider to be your biggest influences?"
For process, technique, and general awe-inspiring temporal work, I tend to keep returning to the photography of Hiroshi Sugimoto and Alan Knox.
Universal Sympathy by Alan Knox was one of the first projects I researched when I started the degree programme and one that I continually find to be conceptually and visually astounding; creating an emotive photographic series by using camera-less photography.
Sugimoto’s Theatres series was created from a single question of ‘what would happen if a full movie was captured in a single frame?’ His use of the compression of time to show what appears as a single moment is quite extraordinary. The idea of creating a single image which doesn’t exist as a true representation of that moment of time is something that I try and put into my own work, albeit a bit more abstract.
"One final question, are you a photographer?"
I find that quite hard to answer; all my work has a photographic starting point, whether it’s a negative that I have processed and printed with a homemade coffee developer or a photogram using stencils; each image starts in the darkroom. If you’re asking about photography as representation of a truthful moment, recreated, then I would say no. I don’t try and provide a linear, or pictorial narrative in my work; for me the process that creates or destroys the print is where I find value in the image.