Hobson’s Choice

Art Life , Exhibitions Sep 05, 2014 No Comments

From Stella Rosa McDonald

The Cyanotype, simple and decidedly cheap to produce, is a democratic and romantic photographic technique. An iron-based solution is brushed onto an absorbent surface, a contact negative is then exposed in daylight and finally the paper is washed in water to keep it from developing. The reaction between the solution and the UV light creates prints in hues of blue. In a reversal of the process, prints that have faded due to overexposure can often be brought back to life by temporarily keeping them in the dark. These are images that are truly solar powered.


In the series Equivalent I – XIII Todd McMillan revives this 19th Century photographic process to expertly wring out the infinitude of the sublime, capturing the sky in degrees of Prussian blue. In the titular photographs Hobson’s Choice I & II, McMillan marries material and subject as he exposes an image of the sky in the sun and washes an image of the ocean in the sea. For McMillan the sea is an enduring subject and one that has often represented defeat—in an earlier work he attempted to swim the English Channel, in another he watched the surface of the ocean for twelve hours straight. This latest photographic series explores notions of the sublime with a more contemplative scope than in previous work, as the spectrum of blue tells of the subtle parallels between light and dark, wet and dry, nature and its image.

Until October 4
Sarah Cottier Gallery, Paddington
Pic: Todd McMillan, Hobson’s Choice I, 2014. Cyanotype on arches paper, 114 x 199cm. Courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery and the artist.

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Stella Rosa McDonald

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