Phillip England


Phillip England

Opening event: October 13, 5pm

Daily opening times:
5 – 24 October, 2023
Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm / Saturdays 11am-3pm / Sundays CLOSED

Phillip England explores the nature of the photograph as image object using the arcane, wet plate collodion tintype photographic process, which draws attention to its own materiality as much as it does to the subject in front of the lens.

In IMAGE / OBJECT Phillip England explores the nature of the photograph as image object, using a medium that draws attention to the physical photograph itself as much as it does to the photographic subject, subverting our tendency to confuse the two.

The tintype, also called the ferrotype or melainotype, was invented in 1856. It consists of a thin layer of photographic emulsion (traditionally collodion) coated onto a blackened sheet of metal. This plate is exposed directly in the camera and developed immediately while still wet. The resulting negative image appears positive against the black support.

The tintype greatly democratised photography because it facilitated, for the first time since the invention of photography, the production of cheap and durable photographic portraits and scenes.

The 21st century revival of the wetplate collodion tintype technique exemplifies a reaction to the digital, high-tech “perfection” of contemporary photography and represents a return to authentic, hand crafted, analogue image making. The beguiling materiality of a tintype is rarely encountered in modern photography.

The arcane, antique chemical process of tintypes renders contemporary subjects with an altered psychology of space. Tintype portraits in particular have an arresting power that haunts. The long exposure times Phillip uses force the sitter to concentrate on their own stillness and gaze, investing the photo portrait with gravitas and an ineffable aura.

With the works in this exhibition, Phillip investigates the potential of analogue photographic techniques, which once were so potent, precious and ceremonial, to say something new, important and alchemical in an age of ubiquitous digital and infinitely computer-manipulatable imagery.

The works comprising IMAGE / OBJECT span the eight years the artist has been practicing this technique and include still lifes, landscapes and portraits.