Artist in residence: Nettie Edwards

2 Anthotype images by Nettie Edwards

Returning to Lacock this June, artist in residence Nettie Edwards will be sharing her stunning work on anthotypes, an organic form of photography. Nettie will be working in the Botanic Garden, giving regular demonstrations on how to make these wonderful images.

Following on from her residency last year, Nettie will be continuing to work on her beautiful ethereal images called anthotypes, using a process invented in 1842 by early photographic pioneer Sir John Herschel. The process uses dye made from crushed plants, which is coated onto paper in several layers. Together with a photographic transparency, the dyed paper is then exposed to direct sunlight over a period of time – this could be days, weeks or months depending on the weather.

The colour of the image all depends on the plant used to make the dye and Nettie has been working closely with Lacock head gardener, Sue Carter, to grow specific plants for her residency this year.

" We’ve been growing ‘Bull’s Blood’ which is a fabulous red-leaved beetroot for Nettie to use in her anthotypes. We’ll also be dredging up some Canadian pondweed, as this makes a really good dye. I’m really looking forward to seeing her images during the residency."
- Sue Carter, head gardener at Lacock Abbey

Nettie’s work is particularly pertinent to Lacock; Herschel was a good friend of William Henry Fox Talbot, who famously invented the first photographic negative at the abbey in 1835. The two friends frequently wrote letters to each other, comparing notes on their latest experiments.

Herschel invented the anthotype process so colour could be introduced to photography, previously a black and white medium. He eventually abandoned his experiments as they took too long to produce and the image faded away over time, problems that Nettie still encounters today.

Nettie coating paper with a natural dye
Nettie Edwards coating papers with dye
Nettie coating paper with a natural dye

An internationally acclaimed photographer and artist, Nettie has a broad-ranging practice, blending early photographic processes with the latest photographic technology. She is most well known for her stunning, award-winning images shot on her iPhone.

Based in Cheltenham, Nettie’s recent work has concentrated on experimenting with anthotypes. She began her anthotype research with a year-long residency at Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire in 2014, and has since undertaken artist residencies both in the UK and abroad. This will be her second residency at Lacock.  

Nettie has won many awards in recent years, and her work has been published and exhibited internationally. She also writes for photographic journals and regularly runs workshops on both mobile photography and anthotypes.

Two of Nettie's photographs, shot on her iPhone
2 iPhone Images by Nettie Edwards
Two of Nettie's photographs, shot on her iPhone

You can see Nettie working in the Botanic Garden during weekdays from Monday 5 to Friday 23 June, which will include three demonstrations each day, free with normal admission.

You can find more information on dates and opening times here.