Seaweed is perhaps my favourite subject. The interest took me as far as writing my MLitt dissertation on the topic in 2013 (contact me if you would like to read it). The fascination began in 2007 on moving to Orkney and hearing about the use of seaweed as manure. I was incredibly fortunate to have the late WPL Thomson as my neighbour at the time, Willie wrote the book Kelp-making in Orkney. Conversations with Willie, walking on the beach, Anna Atkins, collections of dried specimens, books on foraging for and eating seaweed….seaweed was everywhere.
And so in the winter of 2007/08 I presented two cabinets on the social history of seaweed at Stromness Museum.
Stromness Museum boasts a wonderful collection of pressed seaweeds, some Victorian, and I was delighted to be able to show some of the seaweed photograms alongside some of their exhibits.
The exhibition at the museum was enhanced by artist Carol Dunbar’s typeset prints of Robert Rendall’s poem ‘The Kelp-Worker’ and by the story of the Kelp industry as told by William PL Thomson.
(above) The exhibition ‘Seaweed Garden’ Winter 2007/8, Stromness Museum
Alaria esculenta, dabberlocks. Sold
Ascophyllum nodosum I knotted wrack
Ascophyllum nodosum, knotted wrack II. Sold
Ascophyllum nodosum, knotted wrack III
Laminaria digitata tangle. Sold.
Laminaria digitata, Tangle III. (left) Sold. Laminaria digitata, tangle IV (right)
For photograms that are for sale see here.
The photograms (images made without a camera by placing the seaweed on light sensitive paper and exposing it to light) were inspired by the cyanotypes of algae made by Anna Atkins mid 19thC.
Small Holdfast I
Small Holdfast II
A series of 12 of the photograms were shown as part of ‘Dewpoint’ exhibition, Inchmore Gallery, Inverness 2008
They were also shown at BildKultur gallery, Stuttgart, Germany along with cloudscapes collaborations with poet Valerie Gillies.