This week's Investing in Art article gives an insight into Jo Bradford's innovative cameraless photography.


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Colours have always fascinated people, but few have devoted decades to understanding how they interact with each other, and even fewer have tried to portray rays of light on paper.
Jo Bradford is a self-proclaimed colourist who traps and documents colours at her studio in Devon, England, using a practice referred to as cameraless photography .

Since her debut print series titled 'Autogenesis' launched in 2016, Jo Bradford is the most successful new artist represented by Eyestorm' in the past years. First exhibited in London in 2016, her colourful and energetic series of work has excited both collectors and photography enthusiasts.

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Last month her latest work 'Continuum' was released in London and New York and has instantly become an almost iconic edition. The series of six pieces explores the relatively unknown colours that lie in-between the main colours of the rainbow.

This week's article on 'Investing in Art' gives an insight into Jo Bradford's work; through her striving for perfection and her passion for the exploration of colour, to creating beautiful and intriguing pieces of art.

Jo Bradford has gained a sterling reputation in the art world for a very unusual and specialist art practice; experimental cameraless photography.
She works with ‘alternative’ modes of photography where she doesn’t utilise any conventional equipment, lenses, or mechanised apparatus.  In an age increasingly defined by technology, her approach is fundamental and pioneering in how we view and experience the intangible.

From her darkroom on Dartmoor in Devonshire, this precisionist, recorder of light and self-proclaimed colourist, successfully traps and documents the colours present in rays of light. She directs beaming colour to light-sensitive paper during fleeting exposures made in the pitch black and has honed her cameraless practice over a career spanning two decades. With a Masters (Distinction) in the Critical Practice of photography, her work celebrates photography in its most simple and rudimentary form albeit via a highly intricate process of creation.

Jo Bradford’s inspiration is colour theory and geometric abstraction which has roots in the lessons of Josef Albers who famously noted ‘there is no difference between science and art when it comes to creativeness’. Bradford’s photograms nod to Albers as they are nonfigurative rather than representational of any given object and draw on the laws of physics as well as art for their inception.  In Bradford’s work with the prismatic colours contained within light that aren’t visible to the naked eye until ‘captured’ onto photographic paper, Her goal is to reveal the inner glow of the colour spectrum. The glorious hues achieved in Bradford’s work as well as the honesty of the technique have helped this artist become Eyestorm’s most successful newcomer since her debut with us in 2016.

The methodology behind the hues, intense saturations and graduations of colour in her work is brilliantly comprehensive and not at all straightforward in practice. In fact the visual simplicity and clarity of Bradford’s works almost contradicts the complex process in which they’ve been created. To take the medium of light as the working practice and the subject of the work takes a steady hand, an intuitive sense of how long exposures should be as well as immeasurable patience and experience. The technique alone is a unique show of honed skill and dexterous flair as masks are placed where the light should not reach and make its mark on the paper during each distinct exposure period. By hand, Bradford will gently peel away these masks at various intervals in time which gives the distinctive graduation and merging of colour that has become so typical of her work, as well as the sharp delineations that strike through the compositions like visual accents. Processing the images with a very particular set of chemical formulae and light-sensitive emulsions follows, in combinations which are continuously tweaked and adjusted.

Bradford is always seeking to perfect her working methods in order to gain the upmost purity and luminosity of light, and her feat with the completion of her first exclusive series with Eyestorm, Autogenesis, has been a huge accomplishment for the artist. Autogenesis are among the most successful editions of 2016 and in 15 distinct hues and a small run of 15 editions, their breadth and colour-range covers more than double that of the standard rainbow spectrum. The series has been widely collected internationally. These painstakingly-made works bring the worlds of art and physics together and can be collected as a full set or individually. To own them is to partake in the artist’s mission to retain visual documentation of rich prismatic colour, for posterity, for the future, as much as for now.

First exhibited in London, in March 2017 and then at an art fair in New York two weeks later, Continuum is a series of 6 works which develop on from Autogenesis, by recording the colours of the rainbow that lie in-between the main colour bands. Between emerald green and turquoise blue lies Continuum Verdigris and between turquoise and cobalt blue lies Continuum Cerulean, and so on. When placed in the desired order, each work contains a colour that is an exact hue of one in the adjacent work and a special paper has been utilised for this series which has light-reflective metallic and pearl mica embedded in its surface, to really show off the shimmering vibrancy and tonality in the work. In its larger format to Autogenesis, the Continuum series has been exceptionally well received by collectors who appreciate its bold presence and who’ve helped some shades to sell by almost half within the space of two months. The energetic and positive work regularly features as the most popular work on the Arts Trends page and has been the fastest-selling series of 2017.

Camera-less photography is an art form that when created well, shows experience, deftness and persistence and we believe Jo Bradford is on a path which will establish her among the most skilled in her field. Her dedication, attention to detail and ability to achieve perfect execution are all evidence of her staying power in the art world. Her two stunning series with our gallery are not only pleasing on the eye but also have such strong conceptual credibility and her approach is recognised in the numerous accolades and awards already under her belt, including Arts Council England’s Creative Development Award and a Grants for the Arts Award, 2016.