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Art and expertise

Le Cyanotype

A meeting with Marie Clerel

Take a support, let the hands of an artist coat it with chemistry, and then expose itfor several minutes where the sun can draw the most beautiful shadows. Next,develop it in a tray of clean water and leave it to dry. Then watch as the bluishresult, strangely natural and a lot less abstract than it looks, appears.We wanted to begin our new creative venture, "L'art du savoir", dedicated to artistsand their skills,

by telling you about cyanotype, the signature discipline of Clermont-Ferrand artist Marie Clerel. We have fallen under the spell of her poetic works, in which she blends beautiful materials with our chosen colour. But before showing her work in our shop windows, we took the opportunity to talk to herabout this little-known technique from the world of photography.

So Marie, which discipline do you identify with ?

I'm a photographer, but I’m a 'conceptual' photographer. My approach to photography is quite experimental. I treat it like painting. There's a genuine relationship with the material, both in the medium and in the chemistry used to produce the images. It really is the craft of photography, even if I'm going against the grain of what the word 'photo' means today.

I'm a photographer, but I’m a 'conceptual' photographer. My approach to photography is quite experimental. I treat it like painting. There's a genuine relationship with the material, both in the medium and in the chemistry used to produce the images. It really is the craft of photography, even if I'm going against the grain of what the word 'photo' means today.

Can you tell us more about cyanotype ?

Cyanotype is a photographic process that predates silver-based photography and is enjoying a revival today. It provides an interesting way of combining photography, painting, and pictorial expression. Cyanotype uses a chemistry that reacts to UVlight. Conventional photography reacts to all types of light, but we’re talking onlyabout sunlight here. So, to produce the images, I need sunlight, not a camera. It'sthe medium that catches the light directly, much like skin reacts to sunlight by tanning. In the cyanotype process, this produces images that are more or less blue. And depending on the weather, the results can be quite different.

Cyanotype is a photographic process that predates silver-based photography and is enjoying a revival today. It provides an interesting way of combining photography, painting, and pictorial expression. Cyanotype uses a chemistry that reacts to UVlight. Conventional photography reacts to all types of light, but we’re talking onlyabout sunlight here. So, to produce the images, I need sunlight, not a camera. It'sthe medium that catches the light directly, much like skin reacts to sunlight by tanning. In the cyanotype process, this produces images that are more or less blue. And depending on the weather, the results can be quite different.

Can you tell us about the process you use and the expertise you need for these works in our shop windows?

Because cyanotype chemicals are liquid, I can apply them to a wide range of media, especially the most porous. So you can make cyanotypes on fabric, or as here on watercolour paper. Etymologically speaking, photography means 'writing with light', so if you follow that principle, cyanotype is part of it, but I really need and want photography to link up with other fields.

Because cyanotype chemicals are liquid, I can apply them to a wide range of media, especially the most porous. So you can make cyanotypes on fabric, or as here on watercolour paper. Etymologically speaking, photography means 'writing with light', so if you follow that principle, cyanotype is part of it, but I really need and want photography to link up with other fields.

What was your approach to working with Le Tanneur?

I love the fact that anyone can look at my work without knowing that it's photography. It's simply because it doesn't use the same codes as photography but is more pictorial. For this project, I chose to work with the shadows of plants I found here and there, shadows perfectly drawn in my garden, in a public garden or even out in the landscape.

I love the fact that anyone can look at my work without knowing that it's photography. It's simply because it doesn't use the same codes as photography but is more pictorial. For this project, I chose to work with the shadows of plants I found here and there, shadows perfectly drawn in my garden, in a public garden or even out in the landscape.

After a few minutes, here's the result. A blend of nature and poetry, expressed here in an inspiring shade of blue. Because in Marie's cyanotypes, as in her leather goods, as well as expertise, it's always a question of inspiration.

After a few minutes, here's the result. A blend of nature and poetry, expressed here in an inspiring shade of blue. Because in Marie's cyanotypes, as in her leather goods, as well as expertise, it's always a question of inspiration.