How does a photograph come to life without a camera? Cyanotypes are a form of “photographic photosynthesis” that, rather than turn sunlight into food, turn light into imagery. That process is truly magical to me: the direct interplay between the nourishing light which grows the plant, and the organic processes I employ to forever encapsulate the essence of a moment in time.

In the exhibit “Plants Have Lives Too”, I  work with plants surrounding my Salt Spring Island home, and vegetables from the local farm where I pick up my fresh produce. The day to day evolution and seasonal transitions define time for me: as I stand still in observant wonder, the life around me emerges, grows, proliferates and then pours back into the soil from which it sprang. My involvement is in witnessing, and in using light to capture a single moment in the fleeting transformative dance of an organism’s life cycle. 

I work using long exposures with no camera: the ‘lens’ is sunlight itself, mediated by my choice of exposure duration which depends upon the season, humidity, temperature and ultraviolet intensity. My cyanotypes combine a pure contact printed,  camera less photogram of plants with cyanotype coated watercolour paper. Ulitizing seawater and other alternative photographic processes from the 1800ds. Organic. My prints ripen into being just as the plants themselves decay. As the plants die, my prints come alive. 

My cyanotype prints are created to encourage viewers to see plants — and perhaps, to experience time —  in a new light. With initial support from the late Denis Roussel, I have developed a sense of appreciation for not only the flowering of a plant but of the entire lifespan of a plant — a creature every bit as fully realized, with a life just as profound and  as insignificant as my own. Plants have lives too.

- Susan Huber

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