The full article about the new series 'Portals', can be read here.
Eyestorm is excited to announce a new print release from British-born Jo Bradford. Following the release of her 2016 edition ‘Autogenesis’, and more recent 2017 ‘Elements’ and ‘Continuum’ series, Eyestorm now present the first three prints in Bradford’s newest series, Portals - and to celebrate their release, we take a closer look at the unique and fascinating process that Bradford has developed and perfected over her 15 years of practice.
by Tessa Yee
The lights go off, and as she is plunged into complete darkness, artist Bradford begins her work. Committed to her memory are a series of complicated and precise actions and numbers required to create her unique camera-less photographs. Each step in Bradford’s process must be exact in order for her final print to be perfect. If she forgets part of the sequence, losses concentration, or if she doesn’t move her masks with real precision, then she must start it all over again. It is the beginning of a long and challenging process to produce Bradford’s unique ‘luminograms’.
Obsessed by colours all around her, Jo Bradford eliminates references to figuration in her work in order to focus on her central interest and fascination with colour, and its endless combinations. Always collecting vintage colour charts, textile cut-offs, books on colour, colour chips and charts, and with a sizeable library on colour theory, optics, art, and design - colour and light is constantly on Bradford’s mind.
It is perhaps ironic then, that the artist’s camera-less photographic prints are created in total darkness. Enclosed within her darkroom, Bradford must work in a black void, unable to allow any excess light from the outside world to penetrate her studio, and ruin the print process. She may work blindly, but she does so with accuracy and precision, knowing exactly where her tools and materials are, and what her next step should be. As viewers, we can appreciate the beautiful results of Bradford’s work, but perhaps an even greater appreciation can be had when understanding the extensive thought and technique that lies behind them.
Before even entering her darkroom, Bradford has carefully thought-out and planned her objectives for the print she is creating. Having considered the exact colours and gradients she wants to create, and carefully hand-cutting her masks that will cover and uncover areas of the paper for exposure, Bradford also keeps thorough notes, and sketches to inform exactly how she wishes the resulting print to be - all of which must of course then be meticulously committed to memory.
When she steps into her darkroom Bradford forgets the outside world, focussing her mind, and concentrating only on a long sequence of actions and numbers that will take her through the exposure timings and filter settings for each gradient she wishes to reveal. It is a mentally exhausting and impressive process that Bradford has developed through years of research and experimentation. Even still, it can take between 5 and 30 attempts with each one taking over an hour to produce, to get just one luminogram exactly right.
Bradford’s newest series for Eyestorm, Portals represents a continued refinement of the artist’s luminogram technique. Once again Bradford presents colour as both her medium and subject, and as in her previous Eyestorm editions, we can appreciate how she is able to successfully create such subtle changes in gradient, that the shifts from one hue to another are at an almost invisible level - where one colour starts and another ends, is impossible to tell.
Notably, Portals also represents a slight departure from her previously pure abstract series, as the works contain a subtle reference to something literal (indicative in their title). The seemingly abstract rectangles in these works suddenly have a reference to the figurative, which Bradford describes as doorways -
‘’This comes very simply from the first experience I have of light as I return to the real world outside of my darkroom…I had on some level used the rectangular lines and shapes in these works to mimic or refer to the light and shade found in a room illuminated by a doorway to a sunlit space.’’
Once we understand the complexity of Bradford’s technical process, we can only imagine the sensations that must wash over the artist each time she lifts herself out of her state of concentration in her darkroom, opening the door into the light of the world outside, and revealing the brilliant colours of her finished prints. Portals not only marks a subtle departure from purely non-figurative art, but also reveals how the artist’s personal experience of print-making, has fed directly back into her works - giving viewers a unique glimpse into her world.
The three new pieces titled, Portals Teal, Portals Carmine and Portals Chartreuse are available from £795.00 and can be found on Jo Bradford’s artist page here.