'Plants in a different light' by Jan Ramscar

Magnified image of petroselinum crispum; Parsley by scientist and artist, Jan Ramscar

Scientist and artist, Jan Ramscar, presents an exhibition of botanical projection photograms at the Fox Talbot Museum.

Following in the footsteps of early photographic pioneers, Jan Ramscar’s botanical projection photograms are created without the use of a camera. Working in a darkroom, Jan shines light through flowers and seeds onto photographic paper to create unique and intricate images of some of the smallest elements of the natural world.

‘Each image is completely unique and unrepeatable,’ says Jan, ‘much like a monoprint in Art … so these images cross the boundary between photography and Fine Art.’

Centaurea cyanus; Cornflower
Magnified image of Centaurea cyanus; Cornflower by scientist and artist, Jan Ramscar
Centaurea cyanus; Cornflower

It is fitting for Jan’s work to be displayed at Lacock, where William Henry Fox Talbot invented the world’s first photographic negative in 1835. A scientist with a keen interest in botany, Talbot also produced photograms of this kind, although Victorian technology meant they were confined to black and white, a far cry from Jan’s vivid and otherworldly images. 

Jan first experimented with creating camera-less images in the early 2000s. Initially these were simple leaf and flower images but later evolved, using greater magnification and less familiar subjects, to become the more abstract and complex photograms that make up ‘Plants in a different light.’  

" Although they start as a science, it’s impossible to deny how artistic Jan’s images are. They are created in the exact same spirit as Talbot - you can draw plants all you want but the best way to capture their intrinsic beauty is through photography."
- Roger Watson, curator of the Fox Talbot Museum

The techniques Jan uses to create her images are born from her professional background in science; she studied microbiology at university, where one of her projects involved taking photographs down a microscope, and went on to work in hospital laboratories in Leeds and Nairobi, spending long hours examining specimens under the microscope.

By magnifying some of the smallest specimens of plant life for her images, Jan reveals details that can usually only be seen through a microscope, allowing the intricacies of the natural world to be truly appreciated. 

" There are no straight lines, everything is soft curves, you can’t beat nature – it’s had 14 billion years to get it right."
- Roger Watson, curator of the Fox Talbot Museum

‘Plants in a different light’ is on display at the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock from Saturday 18 March to Sunday 18 June and is free with normal admission.

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