Please introduce yourself to those that don’t know you.
I’m Chloe McCarrick, an internationally recognised fine artist and mixed-media printmaker.
From my East London studio and darkroom, I create bespoke, original and limited edition prints and gifts. Best known for my circular cyanotypes, I embrace and develop innovative ways of reworking photographic images through collage and mixed-media print techniques, and by blending science, darkroom alchemy and art.
My work explores the boundless possibilities of image production in the age of modern printmaking with an aim to reinvent, recycle, redefine, experiment and preserve.
Initially, I studied fine art, I then went onto focus more on lens based image making, studying and lecturing in photography and interactive media before relocating to London 6 years ago. I was interested in utilising my fine art training within my photographic practice, so researched ways of approaching a new way of image making as a process built up of multiple layers and artistic techniques rather than just straight photography.
I regularly exhibit globally, recently appearing at the prestigious Salon De Beaux Arts in Paris, The Affordable Art Fair in London, and The Other Art Fair, curated by Saatchi Art, in London and Los Angeles along with numerous national exhibitions celebrating contemporary printmakers.
What inspired you to get into art?
I received my first ‘build it yourself’ camera kit at age 6. I was fascinated with how technology operated and kept wanting to deconstruct and reconstruct things to gain a better understanding of their inner workings. My love of photography sort of developed from there, strengthened by frequent trips to the library to study science and art books enabled me to learn more about art, history and creative techniques.
I still remember my first easel, apron and paint set, I loved creating. I was given the freedom to express myself creatively, to experiment and explore different mediums and crafts at home and at school. This facilitated the development of my own personal style honing of techniques before going on to study art at a higher level.
You have a very distinct style where does that come from? What style of art would you say you produce?
Freedom and experimentation for me were key factors in developing my personal style, through rule breaking and blending art forms and techniques together, taking inspiration from traditional approaches to image making with a contemporary technological twist; a fusion of art, photography and science.
By exploring the basic elements of historical image making, in particular cameraless photography and cyanotypes, I wanted to push the boundaries of how we view photographic portraiture in the modern digital realm. I examine and develop innovative ways of reworking photographic, painted and illustrated images through the medium of hand cut collage and mixed-media print techniques by blending science, darkroom alchemy and fine art.
I examine complex interactions between human experience, environment, materials used, light and time combined with deconstructing and reconstructing images to create intriguing surrealistic stories. These unique portraits have a distinctive painterly characteristic made by embracing technological advances in large-scale negative printing whilst staying true to the purest and earliest forms of photographic techniques.
Using a simplistic, yet effective monochromatic colour palette of Prussian blue and white, I create unique ghostlike, x-ray silhouettes suspended deep inside the paper's surface embodying a painterly and distinctive visual characteristic creating an otherworldly pictorial aesthetic from the light sensitive process.
I focused on using cyanotypes after revisiting my research on British botanist and photographer Anna Atkins. Atkins used cyanotypes to document algae specimens for her scientific reference books and in the process established photography as an accurate medium for scientific illustration. It seemed a fitting tribute to use a light sensitive process pioneered by a female scientist and fellow photographer in creating my series of inspirational ladies.
What message are you trying to convey through your art?
Female empowerment, natural history and science are recurring themes in my work, constructing visual narratives from the lives of extraordinary, trailblazing women - celebrating their achievements, uncovering their struggles and chronicling the stories of these often unsung heroes.
I hope my visual storytelling ignites imaginations and rouses a curiosity to delve deeper and discover more about the lives of these remarkable women. I want people to feel connected, connected to their stories and to notice the unnoticed.
From an early age I immersed myself in books, my love of historical research and scientific experimentation has always played a pivotal role in developing ideas, constructing narratives and creating art filled with playful enchantment, metamorphic imagination and above all knowledge. The exploration of the world around me both past and present and reaching beyond the boundaries of ‘normal everyday’ sight are all centralised in my artistic practice.
Growing up, I forever questioned why we didn’t learn about pioneering women in science, in art, in mythology and history. They seemed to be a mere afterthought in 90’s curriculum and hardly included in texts at school, this irked me. My parents thankfully bought me books and took me once a week to the two local libraries so I could stock up on reading materials to feed my thirst for discovering more (in the days before the internet was a means of instant research)!
By creating an army of girl heroes/sheroes I'm attempting to give them a voice, to transform their stories into symbolic, pictorial form and in turn hoping these protagonists' positive message empowers and inspires others.
What are you currently working on and where do you draw new inspiration from for ideas for a new piece?
I’m currently working on a number of new additions to the collection, almost finished creating collages for the negatives, others I'm still in the research phase. These ladies range from a princess of paleontology to a naturalist and scientific illustrator, to the Queen Of The Waves- the first woman to swim the English channel, to the mother of forensics and the Harvard Computers.
Who is your favourite artist and if you could collaborate with one who would it be?
I can’t pick just one so I’ve chosen 3 - Francesca Woodman, Kiki Smith and Dora Maar
What's your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
To answer your question, I AM A MEGA GEEK! So anything that involves immersing myself in the natural, scientific and historical world, whether this be visiting the plethora of London museums or walking in the many parks and green spaces!
The history of the Natural World, Anatomy and Science Art has always fascinated me, their intertwining/ interplay has always been a major focus in my work and exploration of methodology. Enhancing appreciation for the world around us, uncovering it’s vulnerabilities, celebrating it’s often overlooked aesthetic value and in turn communicating our responsibility to preserve and conserve it for future generations to enjoy.
The natural world is full of important connections amongst people, plants, animals and our environment. Everything is related, connected, part of a chain, a cycle. My art is devoted to exploring our relationships between subject matter, materials, environment and creating human narratives.. I’ve always been curious to discover and to greater understand my relationships with science, nature and art.
Discovering intricate patterns, species, evolution, admiring the sheer size, the delicate composition, the unseen, the undiscovered, the vibrant colour palettes, the smells, the way every sense is touched. Those fugacious moments in time that human consciousness often forgets to acknowledge are the things I hold dearest. This noticing of the unnoticed, revealing of discarded beauty, exposing layers and exploring space and time beyond the boundaries of ‘normal/ everyday’ sight plays a centralised role in my artistic practice.
I also love walking along the South Bank, gorging myself in Borough Market and drinking my body weight in cocktails but that's reserved for Saturdays!
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