The Alchemist’s Workshop
The Alchemist’s quest to turn base metals into gold alone has resonance with photography. Photography, like alchemy is a transformative process. Like Alchemists, photographers use chemicals to transform raw materials into objects of beauty.The techniques, materials and process, the cross over from art to science and the very goal of the Alchemist’s quest, the creation of gold and silver, metals photographers use, all connect the crafts.
Part of the Alchemist’s process for creating the Philosopher’s Stone, the elusive ingredient for the transformation of base metal into gold or silver, was a series of colour changes known as the Magnum Opus, a term now sometimes applied to an artist’s master work. There were four stages to the Magnum Opus, blackening or melanosis, whitening or leucosis, yellowing or xanthosis and reddening, purpling, or iosis. All very similar to some of the colourings black and white photographic printers achieve with toners such as selenium, gold and sulphide.
The Philosoper’s Stone was also believed to hold the secret to the elixir of life. If, along the way to creating the Philosopher’s Stone, the Alchemist had discovered how to fix an image made from the coloration of silver. Would he have accepted that as the elixir of life?
The Alchemist’s Workshop at Grizedale Forest, in The English Lake District, will be a gallery of gelatin silver prints made by fine art photographer Steven Taylor. It will also be a facility for the teaching and preservation of black and white film photography.
Throughout the year courses and workshops on film photography and traditional darkroom practice will be offered.
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