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Gum Bichromate is a 19th century photographic process, initially patented in 1855 by the French photographer and inventor, Alphonse Poitevin. While modern practitioners have undertaken a variety of improvements, in essence it remains broadly unaltered from its 19th century origins.

 

The gum process enables the subtle use of varying applications of colour and the use of physical techniques to remove and adjust colour and texture. Images can be made in one colour; three colour - to produce a full colour image, or different layers of colour can be used to create 'free-form' colour images. The final gum bichromate print consists of hardened gum arabic and pigment which is as permanent as the paper it is printed upon.

 

History and outline of the gum bichromate process > >

 

Reflections on Photographic Printmaking > >

 

About my Images

My work explores the impact of the passage of time and the intervention of the human hand upon the environment. I seek to evoke the elemental forces of time and human habitation that have transformed and shaped the landscape. Rather than working to a specific plan or project, I prefer to allow a narrative and structure to emerge from the act of making the work.

 

My preferred printmaking approach is ‘free-form’, multiple layer gum. Neither colour or monochrome it is an ambiguous space between realism and illusion, which offers the freedom to interpret colour as the image and the mood dictates. It also gives me control of the level, or absence, of photographic detail — helping to strengthen the links that bind locations, ideas and feelings.

 

Edition Variée

I use the printmaking term 'edition variée' to indicate the minor differences between each impression of the edition created through the physical nature of the gum bichromate process. While each impression shares the same order of colour layers, the random nature of physical intervention during development gives each print its unique character.

What is Gum Bichromate Photography?