We’re feeling blue in the best way, thanks to a welcome excuse to revisit the work of badass English botanist and groundbreaking photographer Anna Atkins. To ring in what would be Atkins’ 221st birthday this coming Monday the 16th, we’ve rounded up our limited-edition prints of her images for perusal. These cyan-blue beauties were originally cyanotypes, or “sun prints” as they’re sometimes called, produced by placing an object directly on a piece of chemically-treated paper, exposing the arrangement to sunlight, and rinsing. The untouched planes of paper turn dark blue while the areas covered by the object—in Atkins’ case, her plant matter du jour—are rendered bright white silhouettes of sorts.
Atkins’ 19th century cyanotype photograms of plants changed the game in her scientific field, but they also set records in the history of photography. She’d go on to self-publish an extensive collection of her images in Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions—the first-ever book with photographic illustrations. Her Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns would follow a year later. Which is all to say: HBD to a total trailblazer and devoted plant person … whose birthday happens to be on the cusp of spring, when it’s totally kosher to collect all the botanical art you’ve been eyeing.
With art for everyone,
SWEET ON CYANOTYPES?
See these modern interpretations of the medium:
Bi-coastal by Caitlin Parker
Catskill Prairie by Caitlin Parker