The Tulip Work 1 - some thoughts on picture making

Imagine a space, a domestic space, a familiar space. The elements which structure that space. A table, chairs, prints on the wall, a vase of tulips and the defining light. Light that illuminates, describes, transforms.

The quality of familiarity has always been significant to me, a room, a garden, a landscape, known and understood. i have always distrusted the penchant of photographers to seek out the strange, the unfamiliar, the picturesque.

We inevitably approach a subject with a preconception of the possible. To visit a place briefly is to photograph the obvious, those elements we expect to see. To revisit again and again is, strange as it may seem, to see anew.

So, a domestic space, a known, a constant presence, there to be looked at, to be constantly observed; the continuous shifts of light; morning light, evening light, the changes of the seasons, of the weather.

Tulips, a fascination, text and pretext for an activity of picture making. Observation, the play of the medium. This surely is where the art of picture making begins.

The simplicity of the early tulip images is about discovery, an intensity of looking. Shadows reflected in the glass of a vase, shadows which appear to be upside down to where we 'know' the flowers to be situated.

An awareness of things not previously seen. To observe. to photograph, to collect.

The subject is not only the flowers, but all that the frame of the camera includes. The relationship between the curve of the stem and the curve of a chair. The geometry of the space produced by the meeting points of objects. The way wall and table edge meet. The strange geometries that the amputations of the frame may reveal.

Observation, an intensity of looking, an awareness of the totality of the space.

In the prolonged exploration of a space I like to think of possible oppositions, 'simplicity', 'complexity' for example.What are the most simple images I can make and still consider them part of the tulip work? 

How can I make complex images where response to the space might be problematised? Interestingly both modes of seeing were most fully realised through the use of reflections.

Consider also the play of the medium, of the process, of the control it affords. An exploration of the limits of tonality has been central to my practice since the mid 1970's. To decide, at the moment of exposure, the tonalities I want in the final print and to have the control of process necessary to realise them.Black and white and the myriad nuances of grey, a multiplicity of connotation to be explored and utilised.

John