Project Statement ‘ ‘Hand Colouring Photographs’

I’m a child at heart. But aren’t we all, even just a little bit? So the idea of being able to bring out all of my pens, pencils and paints again to add colour to black and white photographs really excited me.

The beginnings of this idea came from my thoughts that in modern day, colour is the conventional mode for photography. But before this had been invented people used inks and paints to hand colour their images. This methodology is interesting but what made them eagerly look for this method of adding colour? Probably because photography is memories, and memories aren’t in black and white. This approach was their attempt to bring the reality of the photographic scene to someone who may not have experienced the moment first hand. This creative process could allow for greater photographic truth, or could enable them to exaggerate reality and present an idealised interpretation of the scene. This thought was intriguing to me.

From a young age I have always been interested in my history and ancestors. Talking to my family members about their past and stories enthralled me, and it was upon a recent search of my family archive that I discovered an image that my great grandfather took and coloured in 1955. This then became the keystone for my project progression, and inspiration for my own work. There was also additional inspiration from artists including Chen Nong who have used the art of colouring in their images to create images that have the quality of paintings, which colour photography could not satisfy.

My idea has been expanded upon from the start of the project where I was colouring my own black and white landscape images. Although they were aesthetically pleasing, there was no theme or story to back up the work, which lessened their impact. My developed context from my grandfather’s image has strengthened this. The context of my project relates to the concept because I found other images that my great grandfather took which he had not coloured. I added colour to them, almost as a legacy but using other methods than the one he used, experimenting with different pens instead of inks and paints. The result was a final image of multiple layers that creates a different interpretation of reality that is compelling to look at.



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