Sarah Jane Hickson’s historical women and Jacqueline Muitjens’ treescapes are connected, yet on the surface look very different.
Mother Nature describes the systems on the planet that keep us safe: in other words, Nature is feminised. Women historically were described as beautiful, moral, domestic, graceful and kind in contrast to men who were industrial, hard-working rational and independent. In psychology, the forest represents femininity in the eyes of a young man, a place of the unknown; an unexplored place. Forests are also nurturing; the place where life thrives. Forests cover a third of the Earth’s surface, and play a critical role in the survival of our species. As a corollary, each new human grows and is influenced by its mother.
Given the pressure on our planet’s life-giving forests today, the branches of trees and the limbs of humans have never been more entangled. By taking these images and connecting them to forests, Sarah Jane and Jackie Blue are exploring the idea that everyone is important, and everyone and everything is symbiotic. In these images, women pose for early photographs, unsmiling and still. The women are anonymous: historically considered objects to be owned and plundered - the way our forests remain today.
During this project Sarah Jane and Jackie Blue made two sketchbooks in their studio in Maastricht, The Netherlands, strengthening each other’s message using the historical cyanotype process.
Each artwork is made using a negative that is placed on a paper surface treated with a mixture of Ferric Ammonium Citrate and Potassium Ferricyanide. Negatives are made by inverting images and printing on transparencies. Each artist approaches this stage in their own way. Jacqueline’s methods are long and laborious, constructing and deconstructing her own photographs to make new landscapes. Much of her creativity happens then. Sarah Jane by contrast reacts to the finished Blueprint with embroidery.
The negative and paper are then placed outside for the correct amount of time (in the shade or direct sunlight) depending upon the strength of the UV and the humidity and time of day.
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