Liz Nicol is an English photographer who studied Creative Photography in the 1970’s at Trent Polytechnic, in which she became both a photographer and teacher in Plymouth. Her work method is mainly focused on the experimental and alternative photographic processes, with a common theme of both black & white photography and cyanotype prints being made by her. For her pictures, she used a variety of high and low tech cameras in order to achieve her prints.
Broken Sleep was a pinhole camera experiment created as an experimental piece. Nicol would open the shutter of her camera, fall asleep and then re-awaken, in which she would then close the shutter, forming a long exposure picture. The pictures lasted from around 2-4 hours for each shot, creating quite light pictures. She decided to use the same location in all 3 of her prints: Her bedroom window. Here she was able to photograph the trees but also the night sky, in which taking the images Nicols had envisioned a starry sky
However she was disappointed when she saw none at all in the prints. So the white marks you see in the prints are actually intentional mistakes; Nicol placed the prints in the wash over night to create this effect, caused by the chemical contamination.
A point which was raised by us was that the haziness of the pictures reminds us of being in and out of consciousness, as if we were awakening from sleep and then going back into our slumber. This is similar to Nicol being asleep when taking the pictures; she is looking out of the window into the night time sky. So the pictures represent what she would be seeing out there.
The Rubber Band Project was a large series of cyanotype prints created by Nicol. The story behind these prints was that Nicol would walk her song to school everyday, and on the journey there they would pick up all the rubber bands they would find. And at the end of the day she would make a print based on how many were found. The project lasted for 192 days, with over a 1000 bands collected.
“My son Charlie (then 8 years old) and I started to collect rubber bands on our routine walk to school. It was a fun part of the day, a repeated journey that took place on the street, a narrative. For me it soon took form and became a large-scale project. We collected 1,272 plus rubber bands over the period of a year representing 191 school days.”
Without that piece of text which Nicol provides, we would be left confused if we saw the prints just like this. The paragraph gives a nice piece of context which allows us to appreciate what we are seeing.
Also, we almost go on a journey as the pictures symbolizes the everyday life, and that she captures moments we would disregard on a daily basis. But also every day leads us on a different path in which we don’t know what to expect; for example how many bands are collected can vary. It would seem as though she is just recording objects, but they mean and represent much more, each print in the Rubber band project represents a walk with her son which is very personal to her and it feels as if she used this process to be more closer and involved in the creation of the prints.
Key points as to why Nicol may be important:
- Nicol highlights the useful nature of older techniques, as with them we can create photo’s that digitally would be harder.
- She says the pictures serve as a visual memory for her; like the Rubber Band Project.
- We have to think about how we can capture moments with photography.
- We must not forget the importance of the relationship between object and image.