Location: Lacock, near Chippenham, SN15 2LG, Wiltshire, England
Light Struck at Lacock presents photo artist Ellen Carey as she brings new work to Britain’s birthplace of photography. Created in response to Lacock’s photographic history displayed for first time Artist Ellen Carey named in Royal Photographic Society’s ‘Hundred Heroines’ list in 2019.
Lacock in Wiltshire, once home to photographic pioneer Henry Fox Talbot, brings a new lens to familiar ground this spring with Light Struck, an exhibition by Ellen Carey. Cared for by the National Trust, Lacock’s Fox Talbot Museum will play host to the exhibition from 27 May until 31 March 2024. Carey, an award-winning photographer, educator, and artist has been named by the Royal Photographic Society as one of the most important women photographers in the world. Renowned for her work with Polaroid and the 20x24 gallery in New York, Carey’s Light Struck takes the viewer through two centuries of photographic play and discovery. Showcasing key pieces from her career, Light Struck also features a completely new artwork created in response to one of Talbot’s 19th-century photograms.
The Talbot family owned Lacock Abbey until 1944 when Henry Fox Talbot’s granddaughter Matilda donated it to the National Trust. The story of Henry’s discoveries begins with creative frustration. Married to Constance, who was far better at drawing than he was, Henry sought to create an alternative method of drawing with light whilst ensuring that the image lasted forever. Of a scientifically curious mind, Henry’s experiments with paper, light-sensitive solutions, and early cameras led to the development of the first negative. His first images were named ‘photogenic drawings’ and Carey’s Light Struck is both homage to and continuation of his experiments. Carey lets light and color be guides and creators, visually modeling the earliest photographic processes, like Henry Fox Talbot’s, that were shaped by camera-less techniques.
She creates pieces entirely within the ‘black box’ of a color darkroom. Ellen Carey said: ‘Photographers use light in all different ways - silhouette, shadow, outline, reflection.’ She says, ‘However, I often cannot see light while I work [in the darkroom], leading me to wonder what the light does on its own, what are light’s first traces?’ Carey’s “Crush & Pull with Hands, Penlights & Spruce Needles” (2023) is a new work created in response to Henry Fox Talbot’s ‘Cascade of Spruce Needles’ photogram, and contact print. The new artwork was produced this February in Ellen’s studio in Connecticut, USA, using the supersized Polaroid 20x24 camera. It visually consults not only Henry FoxTalbot but his counterpart Daguerre and later, Anna Atkins, famed for her delicate botanic prints in bold blue and white.
Whilst Henry, Constance Talbot, and peers aimed to perfect a new scientific process and art form, viewers of Carey’s work are often struck by its rebellious nature. Her Polaroid prints and photograms are a departure from today’s reverence for post-production touch-ups and generated filters, prompting questions of ‘how is this made?’ And "what exactly is photography in the 21st century?" Light Struck combines modern Polaroid with Henry Fox Talbot’s contact print to find common ground with pre-digital and digital techniques. The result playfully invites you to re-discover what light means to photography. As Carey comments, ‘When light becomes visible, the object speaks.’ Expect a celebration of light, color, and playfulness with a burst of creativity and invention.
Visit the link below to learn more about the museum and its programs.
Art exhibition| South West| National Trust
Explore photographer and artist Ellen Carey’s celebration of light, colour and playfulness. The exhibition includes pieces created especially for Lacock.