SHIVER PRESENTS

CAITLIN DOWD

SHIVER PRESENTS

CAITLIN DOWD

Circular profile image of Manchester based, Cyanotype artist, Caitlin Dowd, for her online exhibition page on the Shiver art Gallery website.

Caitlin Dowd is a Manchester based Fine Artist focusing on alternative photographic techniques and processes which create photographic images without the use of a camera! In particular, she has been producing incredible Cyanotype prints and experimenting with these further in Photoshop during lockdown. The end result is a series of gorgeous imagery inspired by nature and memory set to invoke a personal memory or emotional experience within the viewer.

Having recently graduated from the University of Salford in Manchester, where she was born and raised, Caitlin is one of 2020’s graduates having faced an entirely unique final year and graduation to any graduate before them (and hopefully after!). Caitlin, along with the rest of the class of 2020, have had to undergo one of the most important years and projects of their academic carrier, through the midst of the anxieties and uncertainties of a pandemic and all that’s brought with it. Going from having access to the universities studios and equipment to having to completely change her way of working in order to fulfil her final major project from home.

Throughout this exhibition we will be sharing her images daily, talking about her thoughts and inspirations behind each piece and sharing an interview with Caitlin discussing creating artwork during lockdown, the troubles of being a graduate in 2020, inspirations, music and more! 

ONLINE EXHIBITION

'A Dream Before Sleep’ by Caitlin Dowd

42cm x 59.4cm
Giclée Print on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

"My practice draws heavily upon themes of nature and memory to create dreamlike images that reconnect the observer with nature. I explore these themes using digital and alternative photographic processes. I often visit places that hold a great connection to me, places from childhood memories that connect me to nature.

This print in particular is based on a place I visited frequently called Bolton Abbey. The immediacy that comes with digital photography allows me to capture a moment I experience and as I wondered on my walk, I searched for areas of interest to take a photograph. I then took these images and developed them through Cyanotype processes, toning and layering them to create a dreamlike print. This print is very personal to me and I am hoping that the imagery will conjure memories and a sense of place for the viewer." 

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‘Montage’ by Caitlin Dowd

29.7cm x 42cm
Giclée Print on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

"My practice draws heavily upon themes of nature and memory to create dreamlike images, creating prints inspired by places from childhood memories that connect me to nature.

This print, in particular, was created during lockdown when I was struggling creatively but also in general like many other people have been during these unprecedented times. I found myself looking back on previous work and reflecting on the memories they brought of a calmer and safer time. I decided to take these previous works and create a whole new body of prints, by manipulating and layering them in photoshop, creating a fresh perspective. This is the first time I have made a print digitally, however; they are based off original handmade Cyanotype prints."

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‘Dusk’ by Caitlin Dowd

30.48cm x 30.48cm
Giclée Print on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

"My practice draws heavily upon themes of nature and memory to create dreamlike images, creating prints inspired by places from childhood memories that connect me to nature.

This print, in particular, is based on a place I visited frequently when I was younger, and I still visit to this day, called Elterwater in the Lake District. I spent a day exploring the area, collecting bits of nature and what captured my attention most was a pile of skeleton leaves hiding under a tree. I took the leaves to my studio and started to create toned Cyanotype prints from them. I always feel inspired in my studio space when I bring the nature inside to make work. The areas where I created a dripping effect have recreated the forest area where I spent the day exploring. I then photographed the print and manipulated it in photoshop software to create a whole new atmosphere."

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‘A Darker Stage’ by Caitlin Dowd

30.48cm x 30.48cm
Giclée Print on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

"My practice draws heavily upon themes of nature and memory to create dreamlike images, creating prints inspired by places from childhood memories that connect me to nature.

This print, in particular, is based on a place I visited frequently when I was younger, and I still visit to this day, called Elterwater in the Lake District. I spent a day exploring the area, collecting bits of nature and what captured my attention most was a pile of skeleton leaves hiding under a tree, which I took back to the studio to create a series of Cyanotype prints. I usually create prints by adding layers upon layers, but I wanted the viewer's attention to be drawn solely to the beauty and delicacy of the leaves, so I took a simpler approach. Whist inspired by the colours of a sunset sky; I manipulated the Cyanotype print in photoshop software to create a whole new print exclusive to Shiver Gallery." 

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'Seed Heads At Dusk' by Caitlin Dowd

29.7cm x 42cm
Giclée Print on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

"My practice draws heavily upon themes of nature and memory to create dreamlike images, creating prints inspired by places from childhood memories that connect me to nature.

I became inspired by the idea of producing photographic images without the use of a camera, by creating a series of photograms. I went on a walk around Lake Windermere in the Lake District, as it is a place that holds a lot of valuable memories from my childhood. As I was exploring the area, I collected leaves and seed heads and other bits of nature that caught my attention. I then made a series of photograms from these objects back in my studio space. Then when we went into lockdown, I found myself in a situation where I did not have the equipment to carry on making photograms. To stay creative, I began to scan in the photograms I had previously made and manipulated them in photoshop software to create new and exciting prints."

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'A Night-time Storm' by Caitlin Dowd

29.7cm x 42cm
Giclée Print on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

“My practice draws heavily upon themes of nature and memory to create dreamlike images, creating prints inspired by places from childhood memories that connect me to nature.

I became inspired by the idea of producing photographic images without the use of a camera, by creating a series of photograms. I went on a walk around Lake Windermere in the Lake District, as it is a place that holds a lot of valuable memories from my childhood. As I was exploring the area, I collected leaves and seed heads and other bits of nature that caught my attention. I then made a series of photograms from these objects back in my studio space. Then when we went into lockdown, I found myself in a situation where I did not have the equipment to carry on making photograms. To stay creative, I began to scan in the photograms I had previously made and manipulated them in photoshop software to create new and exciting prints.”

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INTERVIEW

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I was born and currently live in Salford, Manchester.

WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC BACKGROUND?

I have studied art since high school, and it was the only subject that I truly loved. After college I spent a year at Manchester Metropolitan University on their Art and Design Foundation course, which was a very important time for me because it gave me the confidence to take my education further. I have recently completed my final year at The University of Salford, studying Fine Art and I am hoping to graduate after the current climate settles and lockdown is lifted.

WHAT IS/ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUMS?

I find it hard to narrow down my favourite medium, but over the past two years I have found myself mainly working with various alternative photographic processes, creating a photograph without the use of a camera. In particular I have been developing my skills and techniques within Cyanotype prints, which is the developing processes used to create blueprints. I fell in love with this process during a workshop in the second year of my Fine Art degree and since then I have been obsessed with this way of working. I have also been creating photograms using photographic paper and a dark room enlarger, which is something I am desperate to continue once I can get my hands on some equipment.

WHO/WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOUR KEY INFLUENCES/INSPIRATIONS ARE?

The main inspiration behind my work is nature and memory. I often visit places that hold a great connection to me, places from childhood memories that connect me to nature, and I wander in search of an area of interest that inspires me to create dreamlike images. I believe there is a strong connection between memories and dreams, both are as natural as the subjects I photograph. The aim of the imagery is to provoke the observer’s memory of a place or a dream to create a connection to the work.
There are many artists that have influenced my practice but the artists that have inspired me the most are Susan Derges and Klea Mckenna, both of these artists explore alternative photographic processes to create prints. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY MUSICAL INFLUENCES THAT INSPIRE YOUR WORK? OR ANY PARTICULAR ARTISTS/SONGS YOU LIKE TO LISTEN TO WHILE WORKING?

I have quite a broad music taste and it is hard for me to be selective on what influences my work the most, but I would say I favor older music to current music in the charts. Artists that I would never skip when they come up on my playlist are Belle and Sebastian, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and The Magic numbers. I do have a few guilty pleasures as well, but don’t we all?

Do you have any habits or personal rituals you do in order to get in the zone for creating?

I have never really thought of my process before creating work as a ritual, but I do always make sure I have a clear space and my desk is empty. I cannot work if the area around me is messy, which is ironic because no matter what it is always a like a tip by the end. Since I have left university and I no longer have a studio space, I must work in my bedroom, so lately I have been finding myself cleaning my room before I work. I do also love to listen to music while I work, however, I sometimes put on a film or series. Even though I am not watching the screen, I enjoy listening to the story and because of this I have been listening to podcasts more as well. The most recent podcast I have been listing to is, ‘David Tennant In Conversation With’, which I highly recommend.

Check out this playlist by Caitlin to hear what she's listening to right now.

I’m doing good! I’ve had a couple down days and dealing with PMS during this whole thing has been an interesting experience to say the least. I was away from January, and was meant to come home April 30th but, obviously, had to come home earlier. That was weird as I had to be isolated in my room for 2 weeks so as not to put my family at risk, I had some rough days during that. I’ve been working on something every day, and every now and then I come up with something that I feel proud of enough to show people. I think it’s important to keep your brain active and creative right now, not just for artists but for everyone, it stops you going completely mad.

2020 has been a chaotic year to say the least, with times changing so rapidly and our lives being shaken up dramatically, have you noticed any changes in your creative process or mindset?

For me personally, the current situation has affected me in many ways, times have been hard but also there have been great days as well, and I think this is something that everyone can relate to. However, talking from the perspective of a Fine Art student in their last year of university, it has been difficult coming to terms with the whole situation. There were many things I was looking forward to that will no longer take place, such as our Degree Show, which is an amazing opportunity to showcase work and create contacts, but also to celebrate the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one. My creative journey was also cut short very suddenly because the mediums and processes I use need specialist equipment that I don’t have access to at home, and at first it was really upsetting, and I would be lying if I said it doesn't still affect me. However, with all the chaos that is going on in the world, I think it is extremely important to focus on the positives rather than dwell on the negatives. The positives that have come out of this situation for me is that I have been able to reconnect with my family after living in student accommodation for the past two years, it has given me a large amount of time to relax before I start my new job as a technician at a college, I have been able to read books that have been on my reading list for months, I am saving money and I have also been given this amazing opportunity to exhibit my work with Shiver Gallery.

How did lockdown affect you creatively?

As I previously mentioned, the lockdown brought an end to my creative journey in university where I was using a lot of specialist equipment that I do not have access to at home. I was finding it difficult to create work relevant to my current practice, especially work related to my university submission. I have never been a fan of working digitally, whether that is for writing on Word, reading on a kindle or creating artwork on software such as photoshop, I have always been drawn to working by hand. However, lockdown has forced me to go down the digital route as it has allowed me to create new work in various ways. I have taken original prints and edited them on photoshop creating entirely new work and turning them into Giclée prints. I have been experimenting with Adobe Fresco and Draw to create new designs which I then use to create prints. It has opened up my practice in ways I didn’t expect, and I am excited to combine these new techniques to my alternative photographic processes in the future.
I have also been able to use this time to be creative in ways that I did not have the time to previously, for example, I have been able to sew a lot more over the past few months and I am hoping to make some patchwork curtains soon to match the quilt I have made.  

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?

My end goal is to create work that people would love to display in their homes because they feel a connection to the imagery. I want the viewer to look at one of my prints and be able to relate a memory or emotional experience to it and feel like it has been made personally for them. I also hope that my work can help people reconnect to nature. I feel like natural forms can be viewed as ‘over done’ in art, so I am aiming to try and represent these themes in a new and creative way. However, I think on more of a basic level, I just hope to continue creating work that people like and hopefully make an impact on them, however big or small that may be.

What does art/your creative process mean to you?

I think this is a hard question to answer without sounding too cheesy. As an artist, I have to say that my art and creative process means everything to me. I think that any artist reading would relate when I say that you do not feel like yourself unless you are doing something creative. Personally, this does not necessarily mean being creative solely through my artwork, it also refers to the everyday such as how I decorate my room, the clothes I wear or within my job. A lot of people do not realise how hard it is to break into the art world, and to be able to create you also need a steady income. I am lucky to be in a job where I can be creative and help others find their creativity. I think if I were in another job, I would definitely feel very lost, especially now I have finished university and left that creative atmosphere.

Circular profile image of Manchester based, Cyanotype artist, Caitlin Dowd, for her artist page on the Shiver art Gallery website.

To see more of Caitlin's work, visit her artist's page or check out our online shop

SHOP

'A Night-time Storm' by Caitlin Dowd

£63

'Dusk'
by Caitlin Dowd

£63

'A Darker Stage'
by Caitlin Dowd

£63

'Seed Heads At Dusk'
by Caitlin Dowd

£63

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See our first
exhibition

See previous
exhibition