A very important project

The title was actually supposed to be; ‘This is the End or A Very Important Project’, but Google said it was too long. Now, seriously, the project was really important and brought a lot of opportunities to learn too.

But, let’s start from the beginning. About 18 months ago I was approached by a researcher from the Fine Arts Academy, a specialist in picture conservation, offering cooperation on her newest research project. My role was to recreate four historical processes of her choice and to prepare something like two dozen large format prints using each of them, of course observing all the requirements regarding the processes themselves as well as the materials used in each case.

The project, as it often happens, proved to be more difficult and time consuming than we had expected, especially as two of the techniques commissioned were new to me and all the prints had to be made on exceptionally delicate paper; the Whatman paper. But before we could even start making tests in the darkroom, painstaking research was needed to find historical sources, discover the actual recipes used in the 19th century. This was followed by dozens of tests so as not to lose the precious paper that was, prior to my work, covered with a baryta layer and was only available in a very limited supply. Actually, for the processes where the coating was required, I only had as many sheets as the number of required prints so there was no room for error. As expected, coating such large papers with emulsion proved to be the biggest challenge.

My part of the project only ended in the last days of September, much later than I had hoped, when I handed over the last samples of materials used, following nearly a hundred prints sent off earlier on. Now, all that remains is to wait for the results of the tests done on the images I prepared. And of course, to enjoy the beautiful POP paper I learned for this purpose and I intend to use in my own work soon.