Nicky Thompson at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery

Photography and nature interact in Nicky Thompson’s Unearthed & Exposed at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton

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Nicky Thompson at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery

Honiton’s Thelma Hulbert Gallery is hosting an exhibition of photographs by Devon-based artist Nicky Thompson, called Unearthed & Exposed.

Nicky lives on Dartmoor, the natural surroundings providing an excellent source of inspiration for her art. Using experimental photography she adopts processes, backed by a profound reasoning, to create images with multiple layers of meaning.

The philosophy behind Nicky’s art stems from a deep desire to draw directly from nature, in order to produce her pictures.

She takes a photograph and then distorts the image by burying it at the site where the picture was taken.

By surrendering the photo to the physical elements over a period of time, the top surface begins to erode revealing an almost haunting visual effect.

Another technique of Nicky’s, is to develop prints using only the juices of plants and sun light. This produces a very ethereal photographic image and, as no chemicals are required in the process, serves to demonstrate the environmentally friendly approach she takes with her art.

Unearthed & Exposed, Nicky’s latest body of work, reflects on her residency at Elmfield House, now occupied by the Thelma Hulbert gallery. It marks her first solo exhibition and is a result of lengthy research in to the building itself and the town of Honiton, where it is situated.

The Elmfield House series represents memories of that specific place. The processed negatives, from images taken of the house, were buried on location in the soil around the site. The process scratched and marked the negatives and the microbes in the soil degenerated the gelatin surface of the film. The negatives were then exhumed and printed. The resulting photographs are both beautiful and haunting; mirroring the gentle decomposition and memories of place, a physical manifestation of Elmfield House etched upon the surfaces of the photographs by the soil.

The Anthotypes (a process that was developed by Sir John Herschel), are images of Honiton Lace created from pigment of the flowers that are depicted within the lace samples. An Anthotype is a photographic sun print created in plant ‘juice’.

They are made by extracting pigment from the petals or leaves of the plants. The juice is then used to dye handmade paper. Either an object or a photographic image printed onto acetate is placed over the dyed paper and exposed to the sun for two to six weeks. The sun bleaches away the unprotected dye on the paper creating a unique positive print – a photograph in the plant juice.

These anthotypes reflect the flowers depicted in Devon hedgerows that appear within Honiton lace as well as the flowers from Thelma Hulbert’s still life paintings. Some of the flowers used were picked from Elmfield House gardens thus making memories of the site visible and tangible.

There will be a free family drop-in workshop with Nicky at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery on Wednesday, April 13 from 11am–4pm.

Nicky will also be giving a free talk and workshop to artists on Wednesday, April 6 from 11am–4pm, phone or email the gallery to book a place. Places are limited so you’re advised to book.

• Unearthed & Exposed, Nicky Thompson’s photographic exhibition at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery runs until Saturday, May 14



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