After Anna: Blueprint Impressions from Today’s Seas

33 Newborough, YO11 1NF (21 – 31 July 2023)

Scarborough Market Hall, St Helen’s Square, YO11 1EU (21 July – 31 August 2023)

After Anna: Blueprint Impressions from Today’s Seas is an exhibition of seaweed sun-prints or ‘cyanotypes’ made by the Scarborough community, presented in an empty shop space on Newborough and at Scarborough’s Market Hall.

The project takes a photographic technique from the past to highlight a present day problem and asks the question: What do our seas look like now compared to the past and what can we do to help improve them for the future?

The prints were produced as part of our Wild Eye programme with Scarborough-based artist Jacqui Barrowcliffe, who hosted a series of free creative workshops for local community groups. Participants were shown new photographic techniques, and taught how to develop seaweed sun-prints or ‘cyanotypes’, whilst discussing the importance of seaweed for carbon capture and biodiversity. The participants explored combining seaweed and plastic litter collected from Scarborough beaches to create striking sun-print images, a selection of which were then shown as part of Barrowcliffe’s installation.

Groups that took part in the workshops included Scarborough Sixth Form, Scarborough Disability Action Group, Gallows Close Community Centre, Barrowcliff Primary School, and members of the public. 

After Anna; Blueprint Impressions from Today’s Seas is inspired by the pioneering work of Anna Atkins, an English botanist and artist. Atkins is considered the first person to have published a book illustrated with photographic images – Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843-1853) – which used the cyanotype process. Some sources say that Atkins was the first woman to create a photograph. 

This project celebrates Atkins’ work whilst reflecting on how our seas have changed in the 180 years since her book was published, with several species of seaweed now extinct and an ever increasing amount of plastic litter invading the marine ecosystem.

The project is linked to the development of a sculpture for Wild Eye by internationally-renowned, Yorkshire based artist Paul Morrison for Scarborough Harbour, which was selected in consultation with a local community advisory group. The sculpture will depict Fucus Vesiculosus or Bladderwrack – a seaweed species common to the UK coast – in polished stainless steel, which will reflect the surrounding sea and sky.

About the artist

Jacqui Barrowcliffe (b. 1974) lives and works in Scarborough, and has a studio at the Old Parcels Office Artspace. Working across various disciplines, but mainly photography and installation, Barrowcliffe’s work focuses above all on process and impermanence. Most recently, the artist has explored process and change in the natural world, particularly with regards to the climate crisis; experimenting with the cyanotype process as a metaphor for the irreversible changes happening before our very eyes, specifically in connection to coastal erosion and rising sea levels.

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