Dawne Fahey’s 1953 exhibition opening speech

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 4.10.33 PMLIGHT CHEMISTRY & MAGIC 4/5/16
By Chris Reid

Three words sum up the creation of the images before us. Unlike conventional B&W photographs, these prints required no camera, no film or data card.

When making Chemigrams, there outcome is largely an unknown and a little bit of a mystery. Traditional Photographic printmakers though generally work with certainties. We understand a cause and effect and possess the knowledge and experience to create our desired results. My motto is “reduce the variables”. So it takes a great deal of time and practice to create these works of beauty while dealing with unknown factors.

Due to this uniqueness, it can become a case of knowing when to stop. If you take the process one step too far, then you can enter the abyss and the print you have been working on for days, is gone.

When LIGHT is transmitted onto silver gelatine, B&W paper, one can expect at least 50 shades of grey, some black and some white, yet on the walls before us we see anything but a B&W print. I find this a wonderful abnormality and it colourises my monochrome view of black and white printing. It kind if makes me want to get out of the darkroom a little more often.

Chemistry is an essential tool for photographic printmakers , yet here, it is used in an unconventional manner. The interplay of Developer and Fixer transforms and contorts the image as opposed to converting the silver salts to a metallic silver, and then removing the remaining soluble silver salts to make a stable, permanent image. Each time the chemical process is incorporated, something new is created, the image evolves before our eyes once again. But this chemical reaction is an unknown. How exciting and liberating this must feel – to just take the plunge.
Dawne Fahey
Magic can be found anywhere – it is right in front of us! Light plus chemistry can equal magic. It takes a deft touch, time and experience to encapsulate it unto paper. These prints have been hand made, using no computers, no photoshop and not even electricity if so desired. Yet just because a print is hand made does not mean it should hang on a wall, they still need to be exceptional.

These prints can never, ever be replicated. They will age, they may change, but they they will always be a thing of beauty. If any of these prints cause a reaction within you, that is the magic I am talking about. And you can buy this feeling, take it home and hang it upon a wall. That is pretty special, isn’t it?

When we live in a world of data, pixels, ones and zeros, wouldn’t it be a joy sometimes, to just look at a pretty picture, crafted by hand and created by a Light, chemistry and a little bit of magic. I think it is just wonderful…

Dawne Fahey’s 1953 is exhibiting at ESD Gallery at 102 Burton Street Darlinghurst, 19 Apr – 16 May. For more info head to the website.


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