Endangered Plants

A tribute to Anna Atkins (1799 - 1871)

 

The history of photography reminds us that Anna Atkins (1799-1871) has published the first book illustrated using photography by utilizing the newly discovered cyanotype process invented in 1842 by Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1792-1871), the famous astronomer, chemist and mathematician.
The cyanotype process, based on the photosensitivity of iron salts, was principally used by Herschel to make copies of his notes as well as photo-grams of peacock feathers and other natural objects. This printing method had been experimented as early as 1834 by William Henri Fox Talbot (1800 - 1877) who made photo-grams with his salted paper process which he called photogenic drawings.


By corresponding with William Henry Fox Talbot, Anna Atkins learned about photogenic drawings, and her acquaintance with a friend of her family, Sir John Herschel, the inventor of cyanotype, gave her access to the printing technique of the cyanotype process.

In 1841, William Henry Harvey (1811 - 1866) an Irish botanist who studied algae, published A Manual of the British Marine Algae which contained extensive descriptions of the seaweeds in question but without individual illustrations. Anna Atkins undertook a photographically illustrated version of the Manual of British Algae before 1843 by using the cyanotype process to produce detailed images of the botanical specimens. Her first publication of 1843 pre-dated Talbot's Pencil of Nature of 1844. Her book entitled Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, containing 424 cyanotypes was issued in several parts over ten years.

The present project has no such encyclopedic ambitions but is constructed around a series of conceptual pieces around the central theme of endangered species, in this case, plants which are in danger of forever disappearing. Roger Kockaerts uses the cyanotype process as a reminder and a tribute to the early photographic images of Anna Atkins.

Literature: Endangered Plants, Elaine Landau, Scholastic Library Pub - 1992 - 64 pages
Endangered Plants, Jan Cerovský, Sunburst Books, - 1995 - 176 pages
Endangered Plants, D. M. Souza, Paw Prints, 2008 - 64 pages
Restoring diversity: strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants, Donald A. Falk, Margaret Olwell, Constance I. Millar, Island Press, 1996.

 

 

Drosera
cyanotype + palladium + watercolors on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2010

 

Astragalus

cyanotype + palladium + crayon colors on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2010

 

Cephalanthera Longifolia

cyanotype + crayon colors + dry leaves on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2010

 

Aloe Polyphylla

cyanotype on Arches Platine, 320g, 56x76cm, 2010

 

American Ginseng

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2010

 

 

Flower Medley

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2011

 

Sarrapurp

cyanotype on Aches Platine 320g, 76x56 cm, 2011

 

Crinium

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2011

 

 

Utricularia

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2011

 

Dicksonia Antarctica

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2011

 

 

Fly Traps

cyanotype + color crayon + palladium on Arches Platine 320g, 76x56cm, 2011

 

 

Magnolia + dried plant

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 2011

 

 

Hymenocallis Caribaea

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2011

 

Protea et al

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 76x56cm, 2012

 

 

Fly Traps

cyanotype on Arches Platine 320g, 56x76cm, 2012