Week 9 Lecture & Resources
Having first discovered the work of Anna Atkins about a year ago, during the Contemporary Practice module, I was interested to learn more about the cyanotype – a photographic process – and her passion for botany and science.
“She was a member of the Botanical Society of London, pioneering in the field of photography for science. She used cyanotypes to publish ‘Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions’ between 1843 and 1853.” (Science Museum Group n.d.)
Through my research, both in the Science Museum Group’s digital archives and beyond (see references), I began to appreciate how pioneering her work was in the early days of photography. Her cyanotype prints, created using the process developed by Sir John Herschel, were a way to record and illustrate botanical specimens of algae and ferns, without the need for a drawing, as was the traditional method. (Schaaf 2018)
Below is a series of different ideas I developed during a “Crazy 8s” session – my inspiration is the work of Anna Atkins, the first female photographer, who published the first book with photographic images (and type!) using cyanotype prints of botanical specimens – ultimately I want to tell her story and bring it to life.
- Animation showing the plants emerging on the page
- Create your own cyanotype (mail order?) kit
- Cyanotype workshops – hands-on, to let people try it
- A series of murals inspired by the fern & algae cyanotypes she produced
- Exhibition – including projections of the cyanotype images that you can walk around and fish tanks with blue water and fern-like plants (kind of like a living cyanotype)
- Short film depicting her achievements as a botanist and photographer
- Mini photo book tell in Anna’s story with cyanotype prints
- Social media – ask people make something inspired by her work and share on IG (e.g. art, textiles, photographs)
At this point, I needed to narrow my ideas down and asked for some feedback on the Ideas Wall, which is shown in the image below.
BOOM, Mattie and ROOSEBOOM, Hans. 2019. ‘Acquisitions: Photographs – Anna Atkins to Anne Geene.’ The Rijksmuseum Bulletin, 67(2), pp. 162-191.
CHANG, Joshua. 2019. ‘Anna Atkins: discovering one of photography’s hidden pioneers.’ FT Magazine / Financial Times. Available at https://www.ft.com/content/80b5346a-08b5-11e9-9fe8-acdb36967cfc [accessed 30/11/2021]
LONG, Kat. 2018. ‘How 19th-Century Photographer Anna Atkins Changed the Way We Look at Science.’ Mental Floss. Available at
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/559356/how-19th-century-photographer-anna-atkins-changed-way-we-look-science [accessed 30/11/2021]
LOTZOF, Kerry. ‘Anna Atkins’s cyanotypes: the first book of photographs.’ Natural History Museum. Available at
https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/anna-atkins-cyanotypes-the-first-book-of-photographs.html [accessed 30/11/2021]
New York Public Library. 2021. ‘Blue Prints: The Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins.’ Available at
https://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/blue-prints-pioneering-photographs-anna-atkins [accessed 30/11/2021]
SASKA, Hope. 2010. ‘Anna Atkins: Photographs of British Algae’. Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 84(1/4), pp 8–15.
SCHAAF, Larry J. 2018. Sun Gardens: Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins. New York: The New York Public Library.
Science Museum Group. ‘Album of cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns.’ Available at
https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co416960/album-of-cyanotypes-of-british-and-foreign-ferns-album-cyanotype [accessed 27/11/2021]
Science Museum Group. ‘Anna Atkins.’ Available at
https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/people/cp113991/anna-atkins [accessed 08/11/2021]
Science Museum Group. ‘Booklet of “Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions” by Anna Atkins.’ Available at: https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co17028/booklet-of-photographs-of-british-algae-cyanotype-impressions-by-anna-atkins-booklet-cyanotype [accessed 30/11/2021]
Science Museum Group. ‘Frontispiece of “Cyanotypes of British And Foreign Ferns” album, 1853.’ Available at https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co8226631/frontispiece-of-cyanotypes-of-british-and-foreign-ferns-album-1853-photograph-cyanotype [accessed 27/11/2021]