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Reverie in a Bell Jar

Reverie in a Bell Jar

Title | Reverie in a Bell Jar (Ode to Sylvia) Type | Original 3-D papercut cyanotype Inspiration | Sylvia Plath
Year | 2024

Materials | Cyanotype, 3D paper cut, multi layered collage, handmade paper 11.5in x 15in x 1.6in frame depth


Inspired by the great American poet, novelist, and short-story writer Sylvia Plath. Using her poem ‘Poppies In October’ from the anthology ‘Ariel’ as inspiration for this artwork. The poem opens with an image of poppies surviving the cold of October, Plath describes these as a gift- the only flowers blooming in the garden.

Poppies In October explores the nature of intense emotion and the struggle to find meaning and beauty in the midst of chaos. It presents a more introspective and contemplative tone than Poppies In July, but both poems share a sense of the power and richness of intense, emotional experiences in everyday life.

In the autumn of 1962, only four months before her death the following February, Sylvia Plath wrote this cluster of extraordinary poems originally intended for the posthumous collection Ariel to close on a few poems about bees and flowers, instead of death. This collection of work immortalised her as one of the great classical heroines of all time.


Reverie in a Bell Jar (Ode To Sylvia) was created by constructing a hand-cut collage using female photographic portraiture combined with photograms of pressed linaria blossom stems and preserved bees from my private collection, gathered, pressed and preserved from my childhood garden. Also photographs of different varieties of poppies and other foliage to create the collage.

After coating the handmade paper with light-sensitive chemistry, it is left to dry in a dark room. The large-scale negatives are contact printed onto the paper by exposure to daylight (UV rays) for up to a month, depending on the weather, the seasons and the intensity of light. The prints are then processed by thoroughly washing in water to remove any unexposed solution, then be hung to dry, developing to full density Prussian blue after 24 hours. Once dry the individual parts are cut out and collaged together to create a multi layered, 3D artwork.

All my paper is handmade using cotton rags, they are ripped, blended and then made into pulp, mixing in a binder of gelatin before placing into a trough ready to be added to the paper moulds. Once the pulp is sitting on the mesh of the mould, the water is drained, then the paper pulp sheet is laid onto pieces of felt and weights are pressed to draw out the excess water and help bind the fibres. Once set the sheets are hung to dry for a week or so until they are ready for use.

My unique portraits have a distinctive painterly characteristic made by embracing technological advances in large-scale negative printing whilst staying true to the purest and earliest forms of photographic techniques. I examine complex interactions between human experience, environment, materials used, light and time combined with deconstructing and reconstructing images to create intriguing, surrealistic stories.

I explore the boundless possibilities of image production in the age of modern printmaking with an aim to reinvent, recycle, redefine, experiment, preserve and celebrate processes. Using a variety of traditional photographic and alternative processes and cameraless techniques combined with painting, illustration and collage within my current practice including photograms, chemigrams, gum printing and experimenting with different substrates such as silk and ceramics. My process is devoted to exploring my relationships to subject matter, materials, environment, in creating a narrative, a record, a footprint. I’ve always been curious to discover and to better understand my relationships with science, natural history and art.

By going beyond the blue, I am creating a majestic modern aesthetic to this antiquarian photographic technique. Allowing each separate element to support the others, not one overpowering the other, adding depth and uncovering the non perfect surface beauty below. Using naturally occurring chemicals, cotton and precious metals combined with the sun's rays and water is one of the purest forms of photosensitive image making that has stood the testament of time from its discovery in 1842.

Each piece is constructed from scratch, fabricating the paper or porcelain foundation, starting the life cycle, building up the layers. I hand finish my pieces with precious and chemically treated metals to enhance the textural quality of the surface, revealing hidden details and creating an evolving luminous landscape.

I love to celebrate the naturally occurring materials I use, the way they were so exquisitely made, letting their organic textures emanate, the undulations of the paper sheets and the hand deckled edges be seen.

Each piece of handmade paper is a work of art in itself, the recycled cotton rag pulp creates the base structure upon which to let my pieces develop. I love watching the way the tones of the cyanotype chemicals develop on the porous surfaces, the way they evolve during exposure to natural sunlight and seeing the colour intensify when washing in water.

Natural forms and cycles feature heavily within my creating my collections of work.
The history of the Natural World, anatomy and Science Art has always fascinated me, everything

is related, connected, part of a chain, a cycle, an ever revolving and evolving changing, hence the idea of using circles arose.

It is a marriage of natural phenomena and artist intent, a harmonisation of the natural and human worlds. I became more aware of how I wished to use these experiments and research within my pieces as a metaphor and a commemoration of mother nature and science's astounding power.

These ideas are reflected throughout my working methodology from the creation of the paper (handmade from recycled cotton rags and circular moulds), within the construction of the images themselves, (featuring circular motifs and objects from petri dishes to the moon), the process of exposing using natural light and washing in moonlight, in all weather conditions throughout the seasons, and the circular theme carries through to framing the finished pieces in hand made round frames.

The repeating shapes and patterns represent life cycles, borne from human touch and made from recycled materials, taking on new lives once coated with the light-sensitive solutions and exposed to the elements. The process of capturing Mother Nature and creating artworks using her power is a marriage of natural phenomena and artistic intent.


Handmade recycled cotton rag paper:
320gsm / 100% Cotton Rag / Recycled / Acid Free / Medium Rough


We use float mounting for all of our framed cyanotypes. The artwork floats above a snow-white, Larson- Juhl 1400 microns (8001 white core mount board), to showcase the paper texture and deckled edging.


Framed artwork will arrive ready to hang.
Each frame is handmade by our London based design team.

All frames come with gallery spec, 2mm thick Artglass AR70 / 3mm anti-reflective/ 79% UV protected glazing as standard.

If clients would like a bespoke frame, please let me know as I can have them made in alternative colours, gilding and glazing options.

Regular price $1,350.00
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