ARTIST PROFILE – JAN RAMSCAR
The popular Guildford Arts Annual Summer Art Exhibition returns to the historic riverside Mill Studio, next to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in the heart of the town this July. Throughout the week we’ve been chatting to featured artists whose work will be appearing at the exhibition. Today we chat to photographer Jan Ramscar…
Can you describe your creative process?
I am a photographer who does not use a camera!
I make my images by using the live specimen that I want to depict as my ‘negative’, and various light-sensitive materials to actually form the image. I am exhibiting cyanotypes, scanographs and colour photograms in the exhibition; these techniques all represent different types of ‘alternative photographic processes’, some dating back to very early photography at the beginning of the 19th century.
Where have you found inspiration in the last year?
My images are always botanical, and so my subjects come from the countryside surrounding my home or from my garden. I have been fortunate in that access to these sources of inspiration were not denied to me even during the lockdowns of the past year. My background is in the biological sciences and I spent many years looking down a microscope, so I love to show the detail and unexpected beauty in what are otherwise commonplace plants.
Do you find your art works develop/evolve from your original intentions?
There is always an element of chance and serendipity when using alternative processes, and I often have only a vague idea of what the final image might be when I start out. There are no exact manuals or instructions with these techniques, so a great deal of experimentation and gradual acquisition of technical expertise is involved.
Has the pandemic changed anything about your creative process?
I normally work in a studio with other creative photographers, and with the use of a darkroom and processing equipment etc, so I was forced to try a completely different form of image-making by the pandemic. I thought about the cyanotype process, which only requires certain chemicals, watercolour paper and sunshine. Fortunately there was plenty of the latter last spring and summer so I was able to stay creative by making images in my garden.
What is the best thing about able to exhibit live again?
I really enjoy showing my work to people and explaining that an image which apparently represents some kind of exotic deep-sea creature is in fact the seed capsule of a common garden plant! I find that viewers are usually astonished by the simplicity of the processes which result in such intriguing and unique photographs.
What? Guildford Arts Summer Exhibition
Where? The Mill Studio, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
When? 10 – 22 July 2021 / Mon-Sat 10am – 4pm
Admission to Guildford Arts Summer Exhibition is free, but Covid-care procedures require a ticket, which is available in advance or on-line at the door from www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk