Artist Deborah Baker has brought her experience from working in 1970s New York to bear on a new series of Morris-like nature photography.
I wrote a short preview to the exhibition published in the October issue of E List, Walthamstow’s arts and culture magazine (p19).
The garden of Deborah Baker’s new series, In Paradiso, is a long way away from the urban buzz of 1970s New York where she began her career as a photographer and artist.
Established as an assistant to Ralph Gibson, Mary Ellen Mark and Robert Mapplethorpe, she’s now showing her nature photography at the William Morris gallery in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow.
Like William Morris’s ‘Chrysanthemum’ wallpaper designs from 1877, Baker’s artwork layers several images to produce artwork that is packed with detail. But unlike Morris’s hand-drawn illustrations for his wallpaper, In Paradiso uses digital editing to build up a picture.
She also uses traditional photographic techniques (namely daguerreotypes and glass plate negatives) that ‘decay’ the photographic images to show plants decaying and dying.
Baker first saw Morris’s designs when she was an art student at Nottingham Trent in the ‘70s. She recalls that she was attracted to the pattern, repetition and details that characterise the work on how in William Morris House.
Baker’s work has become more layered in its aesthetic and process as her career has progressed. She says that working with Mapplethorpe and Weston informed her work as a photographer, but as an artist she was influenced by French impressionist painters like Monet and Seurat, and abstract impressionist artists.
Baker planted her garden in ‘deepest, darkest Cornwall’ eight years ago. She shares the pre-Raphaelite belief that developing a close connection to nature was good for mental health and wellbeing. She says she feels a strong link to Walthamstow for a number of reasons: ‘I am a regular visitor to the borough, as my gallerist Laura Noble is based there and I always try to visit the E17 Art Trail, which is an amazing celebration of the creativity in the Borough. I’m always fascinated by the breadth of work I see. The William Morris Gallery and Lloyd Park Gardens are also on my list whenever I visit Walthamstow.’
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