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“I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky, then it gobbled summer down”
– Joni Mitchell from “Urge for Going”
By Elin Spring
Once the vibrant colors of autumn succumb to winter’s brazen intrusion, we have a natural tendency to come inside, physically and figuratively. We counter the darkening days and raw weather with warm gatherings, glowing illuminations, the sharing of food and memories. That bittersweet ritual of looking back is the subject of “Recollections,” an exhibit featuring reminiscent images by Diana H. Bloomfield and Sal Taylor Kydd, fittingly created with ancient photographic techniques. The show will be on view at Panopticon Gallery in Boston’s Kenmore Square through January 2nd, 2019.
There is something fundamentally gratifying about seeing 19th-century photographic techniques employed to evoke recollections of the past. In her series The Old Garden, Diana H. Bloomfield photographs cut and wilted flowers from her fecund southern garden – varieties weighted with memories of her grandparents’ home. Despite their decay, her delicate arrangements of bent stems and shrunken blooms are instantly recognizable, a gentle reminder of the mortality we share with all living things. Bloomfield’s painstaking tri-color gum bichromate technique of layering three hues in perfect register imbues her prints with a nuanced, muted palette, at once refined and earthy. Bloomfield’s photographs are faded tributes to past glory: each fragile flower performs its unique swan song in vignette, a dulcet sonata of texture and form.
Sal Taylor Kydd creates dreamlike fragments of memories in narrative B&W photographs – singular instants in the lives of family, flora and fauna around her home in Maine. Bestowing the long, rich tonal range of archival platinum/palladium printing, Kydd selectively focuses her gaze. Most often, we are drawn to a close-up talisman – a feather, a butterfly, a frog – poised within a larger environmental context such as a face, leaf or hand. By blurring and/or darkening the edges of her prints, she creates a bright central focal point that further isolates her subject, lending a sense of suspension. Kydd’s compositions are like a telescopic view into an elusive past, at once near and far. One exception is the softly sun-drenched face of a peacefully sleeping boy, so full of the future…perhaps he dreams of some of the other moments captured in Kydd’s photographs.
Utilizing disparate ancient photographic techniques, Diana H. Bloomfield and Sal Taylor Kydd tap into the ethereal realm of memories. Bloomfield’s softly faded flowers and the magical moments Kydd snatches from daily life offer suggestive, alluring paths back into our own life stories.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: https://www.panopticongallery.com/recollections/