London to Los Angeles
Internationally acclaimed fine art photographer and printmaker Chloe McCarrick from the Ribble Valley has this year exhibited her work across London and in Los Angeles
Globe-trotting artist, photographer and printmaker Chloe McCarrick works from her studios in London where she blends science and art to create bespoke, original and limited-edition prints inspired by female empowerment and natural history.
She is best known for her circular cyanotypes that she produces using a process pioneered by 19th century botanist Anna Atkins, the world’s first female photographer and first person to publish a book illustrated with photographs.
Chloe, who attended St Augustine’s RC High School, Billington, explains: “Trailblazing women, natural history and science inspire me. I construct visual narratives exploring the lives of extraordinary women, celebrating their achievements, uncovering their struggles and telling the stories of these often unsung heroes.”
“My latest series of cyanotypes are based on female historical and mythological figures, who deserve to be recognised and celebrated as powerful figures in time. I want to visually tell a story with each piece to celebrate the lives of these women using portraiture, symbolism and surrealism.”
“I expose all my pieces to natural light for up to a couple of weeks. Printing in all weather conditions, doing everything by eye and in the most organic way possible, this enables me to be at one with each piece I create.”
“I examine and develop innovative ways of reworking photographic and illustrated images through collage and mixed-media print techniques, and by blending science, darkroom alchemy and fine art.”
Using a simplistic, yet effective monochromatic colour palette of Prussian blue and white, Chloe creates unique ghost like images: “I create each piece from scratch, building up layers. The process, chemistry and materials I use are equally as important as the subject matter when producing a body of work.”
Chloe hand finishes each piece with precious and chemically-treated metals to enhance the textural quality, creating luminous landscapes from a new aesthetic borne from an antiquarian photographic technique.
Chloe, who grew up in Downham and Chatburn before going to university, adds: “Growing up in the Ribble Valley forged my love of the great outdoors and strengthened my connection with the natural world. I’ve always had a fascination with science and natural history.
“Nature has so many wonderful elements to document and discover, I take great enjoyment in capturing its fragility and strength within my work.”
Chloe’s interest in photography started at an early age – she was given her first ‘build it yourself’ camera kit at the age of six.
“My love of photography sort of developed from there, strengthened by frequent trips to the library to study science and art books to learn more about art, history and creative techniques. I was always allowed to express myself and given the freedom to experiment and explore different mediums and crafts at home and at school.”
At college Chloe obtained qualifications in Fine Art specialising in Lens and Time Based Media, Art History, Life Drawing and Film Studies. She went on to complete a BA Honours degree in Photography at Manchester School of Art, at the same time studying History of Art, Printmaking, Bookbinding and Letterpress.
She relocated to London five years ago working as a full time artist: “I live in Islington in a beautiful architectural gem, designed by British architect Amin Taha, it has just won a RIBA award for its design. The building is a block designed as a misremembered copy of a lost four-storey building, a distorted replica of a 19th century Victorian terrace”
“I have a studio in East London comprising of three photographic darkrooms for colour, black and white and alternative processes. I also have screen printing facilities and a large workspace. All of my exposures are done in the large courtyard outside.”
This year alone, Chloe has participated in numerous London art fairs and exhibitions and also one in Santa Monica LA. She was also invited to exhibit as part of the Salon des Beaux Arts in Paris at the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts, which takes place each year at Carrousel du Louvre under the glass pyramid at The Louvre.
She has also exhibited at the InPrint exhibition at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, where she completed work experience as a youngster.
“For me, photography and printmaking go hand in hand on every level. I approach image making as a process built up of multiple layers and techniques. Freedom and experimentation for me was key in developing my personal style.”
“I like to be as hands on as possible when creating my pieces, celebrating every stroke, every mark made, every layer added, every material I use and every texture uncovered.”
“I love to celebrate the naturally occurring materials I use, the way they are so exquisitely made, letting their organic textures emanate. Each piece of paper is a work of art in itself, it is 100 per cent cotton – a structure upon which to let my pieces develop.”
“I love watching the way the tones of the chemicals develop on the porous surface, the way they evolve during exposure to natural sunlight and seeing the colour intensify when washing in water.”
“The addition of pure gold, copper and zinc leaf by hand adds intensity to the tonal and textural qualities of the piece and honours the materials used.
“Using naturally occurring chemicals, cotton and precious metal materials with the sun’s rays and water, creates such a pure photosensitive image that has stood the test of time since its discovery in 1842.”
Chloe concludes: “I hope people are empowered by the story behind each piece and that the subject matter ignites imaginations and a curiosity to delve deeper. The key emotion is to feel connected to the story.”