Prize Winner

The Alice Duncan Prize

Fine Art Photography School of Fine Art

Demelza Kingston

(she/her)

I work in photography and moving image, with processes that span the analogue, digital and cameraless, often mis/using obsolete materials and technologies. Through my art practice, I consider how humans of the ancient past, the present and the future are dis/connected with the land and the more-than-human.

Research, from archive to fieldwork, informs this work that I see as a speculative archaeology. Much of my work relates to plants — their lore, their commodification and prohibition. I see the allotment I tend, where herbs for use in photographic developers grow, as part of my studio.

Contact
demelza.kingston@gmail.com
D.Kingston1@student.gsa.ac.uk
web
Works
The Garden
Harvest
Pharmacopœia
[an]d with Artemisia having a [m]irrour of steele yf thou clep any spiritts [tho]u shallt see them therin

The Garden

Much of my work relates to plants — their lore, their commodification and prohibition. I see the allotment I tend, where herbs for use in photographic developers grow, as part of my studio. Choosing to work in this way, I seek to acknowledge the harm inherent in the medium of photography and to do what I can to reduce this harm, moving towards a more connected, less extractive relationship with the materials and process.

a monochrome photograph of an allotment in the late spring, there is a tripod structure in the foreground for plants to grow up and a greenhouse in the background. The artist tends this garden, growing plants for photographic practice as well as food.

The Garden

Four photographs and a photogram of plants, framed in handmade steel frames without glass, in a scatter arrangement on the exhibition wall. To the left is a bundle of dried wormwood.

The Garden, installation view

Harvest

Growing plant material for use in homemade developer takes a whole growing season from the plants’ winter sleep, to growth and harvest. Once the material is used up there is no more until the next cycle, so each sprig claims its value beyond the monetary. The spent herbs are composted and returned to the ground.

Still frame from Harvest showing a stack of dried plant material and the artist's hand picking up and preparing the plant for use in photographic processes.

Harvest, HD video, colour, 11 min, still

Harvest, HD video, colour, 11 min, installation view showing screening on a mini analogue terrestrial signal TV

Pharmacopœia

Using expired film, old photographic papers and reclaimed objects throughout my process, I relinquish control to the materials, the seasons, the plants and the earth they grow in. Pharmacopœia is a short film on an obsolete 8 mm colour filmstock, Kodachrome.

 

Kodak discontinued the production of Kodachrome in 2009 and support for processing it ceased in 2010 as Kodak withdrew the complex chemistry and its tightly controlled licenses for laboratories to process it. Here I repurpose it, using homegrown plant developer to reveal the images of some of the medicinal plants growing in the allotment.

An installation view of Pharmacopœia, an 8mm film transferred to HD video begin rear projected onto the single remaining pane of glass in a suspended reclaimed window and the film negative shown as an analogue projection alongside.

Pharmacopœia installation view of simultaneous analogue film screening and projection of the digital positive scan.

A still frame from Pharmacopœia, an 8mm film, transferred to HD video showing a close up, low contrast monochrome image of a flowering herb.

Pharmacopœia 8mm film digital scan

A still frame from Pharmacopœia, an 8mm film, transferred to HD video showing a close up, low contrast monochrome image of flowering wormwood.

Pharmacopœia 8mm film digital scan still

An ethereal close up view of a blooming plant filmed on 8 mm film, developed in homemade wormwood developer and transferred to HD video begin rear projected onto the single remaining pane of glass in a reclaimed window. The window is suspended from a beam above in a handmade steel frame.

Pharmacopœia, 8 mm film, transferred to HD video, colour, projected onto a discarded window frame, installation view.

close up view of a bundle of standard 8 mm film being washed in a bath

Work in progress image of 8 mm film processing.

[an]d with Artemisia having a [m]irrour of steele yf thou clep any spiritts [tho]u shallt see them therin

In the series [an]d with Artemisia having a [m]irrour of steele yf thou clep any spiritts [tho]u shallt see them therin, the plant’s properties are in the fore as this work explores the lore of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Initially drawn intuitively to this plant in grief, as I researched this powerful plant more I realised that others had known wormwood — buramaide, bitter herb in the Gaelic — as a plant that was turned to in the process of dying, in funerary rites and in rituals of summoning spirits and scrying.