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Leaf imprint into beetroot coated paper by Chris G Smith


Two Icons printed into bramble and buddleia coated paper by Megan Doyle (17yrs)

Enthusing Young Minds - Phase 2


Phase 2 of Enthusing Young Minds focuses on alternative practices that allow the Young Aspiring Artists to print their images taken during the first phase of the project with the aim of being environmentally conscious and cost effective too. This is particularly important during the cost of living crisis, and the climate emergency that are have to be at the forefront of our developing practices to ensure that we reduce our negative impact on the environment, reduce our costs, while still enjoying the arts.

After researching some alternative processes to printing, I decided upon Anthotypes. This printing process uses plant matter, paper and sunlight and can be done with very little cost. Phase 2 of the project began with my own experiments to see what materials would work best and would be cheap to source. I found paintbrushes and old frames in charity shops and sourced beetroot and spinach from local shops. I picked leaves of trees and bushes and took paprika and turmeric from the spice rack to see which plant matter would work the best. The plant matter was cut into small pieces then mashed up with Isopropyl alcohol using a pestle and mortar. Once again, thinking economically and ecologically, a pestle and mortar does not require electricity. After straining the plant juices (emulsion) through a cloth, it was painted onto watercolour paper and left to dry in a darkened room. Finally a positive image was printed onto acetate then layered onto the coated paper and clipped in a frame and left out in the sunshine.

My first couple of attempts did not work but I persevered with it to finally produce some great results using beetroot, spinach, turmeric and paprika. The paprika was the quickest to print in the sun with it taking only a few hours, whereas the beetroot and spinach took in excess of a week to print. At this stage, I also learnt that I needed to find a better way to coat/ dry the papers as can been seen the leaf imprint into beetroot coated paper, there were large splodges that dried on the paper.

Workshop 1

In the first workshop, there were three of the Young Aspiring Artist, Jack Doyle (9yrs), Megan Doyle (17yrs)  and Izzy Riley (11yrs). They initially tried the paprika mixed with alcohol but soon started experimenting with plants from the garden. Meg produced a purple emulsion on her paper by mixing brambles, buddleia and isopropyl, Jack produced a vibrant green emulsion on his paper by mixing comfrey, daisy leaves and nettles with isopropyl and Izzy also created a purple emulsion by mixing holly hock, rose petals and isopropyl. These experiments were done by the Young Aspiring Artists which allowed them to become more excited by what they were trying. 

The prints started working with the paprika being the quickest and the rest taking about a week to print but with some amazing results! It wasn't just the kids that were amazed by these results, the parents were to, comparing it to science and art classes from when they were at school.

Workshop 2

In the second workshop, there were three more participants, Demi Welham (16yrs), Tom Keogh (13yrs) and Cardlin Huntley (16yrs). They each picked an ingredient to try with Demi picking the red cabbage, Cardlin choosing the paprika and Tom picking the beetroot. Between the three of them, they coated enough paper to take the extra sheets home with them to clamp in a frame once their first Anthotypes were completed. Each of the Young Aspiring Artists have expressed how much fun this process is and how they would like to continue to use the method going forward.

Meg even went as far as to recreate the workshop, putting her own spin on it for other children who are currently not participants within my project. The learner became the teacher.

Read more about Anthotypes and other alternative processes HERE

Read an interview about Enthusing Young Minds by HERE

Let’s Collaborate...

If you have any ideas about a collaboration, please do send me a message.

Do you have an exhibition space? Would you like to exhibit this work?

I am also looking for funding in order to keep this project running for as long as possible; donations of funds, equipment, film, paper or chemistry would be highly appreciated.

Thanks for submitting!

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