In England in 1844, Henry Fox Talbot placed a leaf on a sensitised sheet of paper, covered it with glass, exposed it to light and obtained its impression on paper. This image appeared in “The Pencil of Nature”, the first-ever photography book.
Nearly two centuries later and photographer Caroline Gavazzi has given a new interpretation to Fox Talbot’s leaf with a series of incredible images that almost look like impressionist oil paintings. Capturing a range of tropical flowers and plants protected, or trapped, in a glasshouse – depending on your point of view – there’s an undercurrent of intense vitality as they crowd looking for space, some with a leaf pushing up against the surface of the steamy glass.
This so-called vitality is not as far-fetched as it may sound, as recent plant research suggests that plants have an ability to see light, perceive sound (Day of the Triffids, anyone?) and recognise the signs of danger. Caroline considers Fox Talbot’s glass and wonders if the glasshouse is a barrier used as protection to provide a suitable eco-system or is it really a prison from which the plants are sending out a desperate call for freedom? This question remains unanswered.
Whatever your own thoughts on the subject, it’s clear that Caroline’s photographs have a delicate and poetic feel with a strong undercurrent of life. You can view her series of abstract photographs in a new show entitled Tropical Sighs at the Brick Lane Gallery in London from 4 July until 10 July 2017. Or find out more about her work at carolinegavazzi.com.
All images copyright: Caroline Gavazzi