About Liz Johnson
Susan Sontag described photographs as “invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy”.
As a photographer I am interested in creating new images from the world around me, not in documenting it. In the patterns and textures revealed through the lens of a camera the relationships between objects undergo a transformation. This allows even the most mundane details of the world to be seen and sensed afresh, for “reality” to be questioned and reshaped.
My work, which engages primarily with the environment and our relationship to it, is concerned with atmosphere, with emotion, and with reflection. It deals equally with abstract qualities - of light, structure, tone and form. I aim to make my images sufficiently ambiguous and intriguing to bear sustained and repeated looking.
I am indebted to the guidance of landscape photographic artists such as Thomas Joshua Cooper, John Blakemore and Fay Godwin, as well as to others including Jan Groover, Melanie Manchot and Keith Carter.
I place a high value on the craft of the photographic practice. My work employs traditional darkroom techniques. I work with both medium format and large format cameras, and make archival images of various sizes, ranging from 5”x4” and 10”x8” contact prints to enlarged images up to 20”x24”. All of this makes for slow, considered picture-making and enables me to make high-quality enlarged prints and to employ a range of traditional contact printing processes such as platinum palladium and the use of printing out paper. This in turn means that I can select the process that will best complement the ‘feel’ of any given image.
The darkroom also enables me to create photographic images directly, using transparent objects as negatives and placing objects directly onto the photographic paper. After my mother’s death I found a curl of my baby hair folded into a packet of greaseproof paper. I was able to work with these potent objects to make images directly through the enlarger.
I am often drawn to work in places which are in various states of decay and disintegration, as if they are returning to the earth. A derelict Victorian glasshouse or the ruins of Angkhor are invaded and obscured over time by the rampages of nature and become something else, poignant, evocative, and, from a photographic point of view, extraordinarily beautiful.
The photographs from Eric’s Sheds are an example of this fascination with time, as well as a homage to our much-loved neighbours. These images are part of a joint project based around the sheds that Eric constructed. Full to the brim with his hoardings over the years, these sheds were then emptied after his death. The only things left to photograph were the cobwebs in the windows.