Scale & Substance: Tamsin Green in Conversation with Sid Motion and Dafna Talmor 
Transcribed from an artist talk at Photofusion Gallery, London (31 March 2022)

Listen to the Audio recording here.

Kim Shaw: Welcome back to Photofusion for our first live artist talk in over two years. Still not sure how I feel about it, but got my mask and everything. It feels very strange to have you back the gallery, but thank you for coming. So I have to say, I have three of my favourite people here tonight. I'm so happy that we're doing this tonight. I'm not chairing the talk, so I'm just going to introduce Sid who's going to  introduce Dafna and Tamsin.

But what I want to say about Sid, probably a lot of you know Sid or know of Sid. I think she's got one of the most interesting galleries in London right now, and that's why I was really excited to ask her to do this talk. So if you've not been to Sid Motion Gallery, it is in Bermondsey. You moved there in 2019, I think you were in King’s Cross before that from 2016. Sid went to school at Chelsea College of Art and Design and then also at LCC. I have seen the way Sid works with her artists and it's a complete inspiration. And I am, I have to say, sort of stalking her a little bit. But no, it's so wonderful when you meet a Gallerist who's supporting artists and working hard for them. The gallery often features emerging artists, giving artists their first out, reaching a bigger audience, or an international audience. And then also she represents some really interesting artists. One of them is Dafna Talmor, who has been a member of Photofusion for a very long time. So I'm going to turn it over to Sid, but I really appreciate you being here tonight.

Sid Motion: Thank You so much. I mean that literally couldn't have been a nicer introduction. I’m so pleased, I’m going to make my brothers listen to that. Thank you, Kim, that’s really, really kind. Kim plays a very, very special part in Dafna and I's relationship because I first saw Dafna's work at a Photofusion exhibition. So it's really, really nice to be here in a different capacity, celebrating Tamsin on this occasion. But so the love-in is very mutual Kim. 

So it will be a very light touch from me because actually there is so much brilliant work to talk about and to celebrate the occasion of the exhibition feels really wonderful. So Tamsin Green whose exhibition we are here to celebrate. One of my first questions actually is about definitions; photographer, book maker, general maker, walker, sleeper in the wild, all of these things are very important roles that you play that make the work come together, so there's a lot to unpick, and we will come back to this later. As Kim kindly said, Dafna Talmor is an artist that I've had the pleasure of working with since 2017 to now. And it's very much through Dafna's photographic practice that I've got to know landscape photography better and the definitions of those things.

Just to tell you a bit about the structure of this evening we'll have a 10 minute presentation from each artist. And then I've got some questions and we'll make sure there's time for questions from the audience too.

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Tamsin Green: Thank you Kim for organising this evening and thank you Sid and Dafna for coming and being part of this and thank you everyone for coming along. I think this is the first in person talk I've done in a couple of years, so it's a bit daunting.

So this exhibition features two bodies of work which I made over a five year period. The first one is Born of the Purest Parents, which is a project about the landscape, language and culture of salt. And the second body of work is this is how the earth must see itself, which was examining the Ordnance Survey symbols and using them as a guide for investigating the coastline of England. So the artist book is the medium that I use to examine my work, and both of these bodies of work have been published as handmade books. When this opportunity of an exhibition first came up, I wanted to see how I could work with these two bodies of work within a physical space and also include elements of my book making process.

The starting point for the exhibition was going back to the process of how I make my work. All the projects start from walking, going out into the landscape, seeing things that make me curious and things that I want to discover in more detail. And more recently that also includes carrying my own shelter and sleeping out in the landscape in remote places. For me, this connects me to the places that I'm traveling through and visiting and is an important part of making the work. The second part of the process is research. I read a lot of texts, from science to literature, and then also mind map and draw to make sense of the lines of inquiry that I'm investigating. So I do a lot of sketch booking and there's a lot of doodles trying to make sense of this research. The third part of the process is making, playing with scraps of paper, figuring out book structures, making whole book dummies as the project develops. Very much working with the photographs in a physical form and thinking about the materials on which they find themselves.

When I started to think about this exhibition, I was thinking about these three parts of my process, and then also thinking about how I experience the landscape when I go out and make my work. And that's very much drawn to small details in the landscape or things that I pick up and touch, but then also spending time looking at things that are far off in the distance. So thinking about this relationship between scale; things that you can touch and feel, and then things that are beyond your grasp and further away. And so this idea of scale became really important to me in terms of how people would experience the work itself.

Another opportunity that I found with exhibiting the work was how I could bring in some of the maquettes that I made as part of the process. So I make lots of different types of tests, some of them lead to dead ends and some of them directly inform the final books. But some of the dead ends I find quite interesting in their own right and so I wanted to include them as artefacts of my process in the show. The exhibition really came together through playing with the scale of these maquettes and then exploring for the first time my own images at scale. So large scale landscapes alongside smaller scale test pieces. Then at the back of the gallery there is a small reading room, showing the final books and some of the reference books that informed the making of the work.

Alongside the exhibition I also published a small book. The starting point for the book was a series of tests which I'd been making, exploring how to make a leporelo book without using any glue. How to become excited by where the paper joins, these meeting points, rather than trying to conceal where the glue lines are. Celebrating the fact that the paper had joins and differences. So I was making these little scrappy tests and then expanding that into sections of leporelo books and seeing how I could sew the pieces of paper together to create a long book form. Part of what I was also really excited about with this book was how I could use standard size sheets of paper and through folding and sewing create the format of the book. Minimising waste as there was no trimming of the paper required to make the book. The book is made of eight standard sheets of paper, each one is a different shade of grey from white to black. And through this joining of the different colour sheets of paper, you can understand the structure of the book.

It’s a text based publication. Each of the individual pieces of paper contains either a text or a series of diagrams. I commissioned an essay from Eugenie Shinkle who wrote about the two bodies of work in the exhibition. I wrote a text last summer called walking out of sleep which was a time that I spent sleeping and walking in the landscape. I wrote this text while I was out there. There's also an interview by Kim Shaw and I, which was originally published in Photomonitor last year. And then there is another piece of writing by Ursula K Le Guin which is a text that I loved, but didn't quite know what to do with, and it kind of found its place within this book. So all of the texts and drawings are related to the idea of Scale & Substance. And the idea is that the book sits alongside the work exhibited. And then on the back of that text based part of the publication is a kind of landscape sculpture. So the book can be completely unfolded and it reveals a scene of the mountains across many shades of grey.

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Dafna Talmor: Thank you Kim for inviting me and thank you Sid and Tamsin for being here. I've been really looking forward to this because I'm a big fan of Tamsin’s work. I was reading the text in her latest book and I just found that it's so interesting that even though our output and the way that we engage with landscape is quite different, there's so many points of connection and I found myself relating to so much that had been written or that you'd said in the interview. So to me it just makes a lot of sense and I'm really pleased to be here. 

I'm going to try and be as speedy as possible and just introduce the Constructed Landscapes series because although I do other work, I'm an interdisciplinary artist, I think that in the context of this conversation, the Constructed Landscapes series is the most relevant and it's also what I've been working on and developing over 10 years now. So I thought that I'd talk about the three volumes, and very briefly what those three volumes consist of. And then it'll be great to open things up and have a wider conversation. 

So volume one started in 2009. And I always say that the project stemmed from a kind of frustration that I had with photographing landscape. The project came about in a kind of accidental way. I'd been taking pictures for many years that weren't intended for this project. I'd been shooting mostly in interior spaces. I really needed those limitations. And somehow I found that I was shooting landscapes compulsively mostly for personal reasons and I got really frustrated with the accumulation of that material, and my negatives, and the fact that they were just sitting there in boxes without any real function beyond that personal one.

So the challenge was what to do with that personal archive, that material, which would allow me to deal with what I felt was quite a problematic relationship that I had to photograph landscape, which I think is an incredibly loaded genre in so many ways. I just felt that my images were quite mundane in themselves. And so that's how it started. The thing that really seemed to make sense is that I thought those images in themselves were not very interesting. I thought maybe the only way that I could deal with that and use the material was to transform it in a way that was meaningful to me by collaging my negatives. Which I know to a lot of people and photographers who shoot film is quite an extreme thing to do. But for me, it was very liberating because I wasn't precious about those original negatives. So that was the starting point. 

I like to say that the work unfolded and developed through the process of making. It wasn't like I had something particular in mind. All I knew is that I had this material and I wanted to experiment with it. And the darkroom played a key role in that. So it was very much about making incisions and collaging things and printing and seeing what was happening and then responding to that material. In the first volume, the process consisted of taking two negatives that were from different locations merged together and only one element was cut out. And the thing that tended to be cut out initially was always something that was very obviously manmade. And the reason I liked to enforce the fact that it's obviously manmade rather than just manmade is because I think what was interesting to me was that a lot of times there's this confusion or blurring around what is natural and what isn't. But I needed a starting point and I needed something very specific that conceptually made sense rather than just an arbitrary incision in the negative.

So that process shifted when it came to volume two, which was in 2014, so rather than taking two negatives of different locations and merging them to create a hybrid space, I was now thinking more about abstracting the landscape and reconfiguring the landscape. So it was now just one location, one role of film that was being used to construct a new image. Those images were made up of anything between two to nine collaged negatives. The other thing that was important about volume two is that all of a sudden, I thought rather than hiding the construction and the manipulation of the image, I was quite interested in how that started to leak into the frame. So you get, for example, at the bottom [of the frame], the turquoise strip are layers of sellotape that are holding the fragments together. It was all done in a very lo-fi way. And so rather than cropping that out of the frame, I quite like the fact that it became embedded and became part of the visual language that spoke of that construction. There was also then more of a play with the format. So, you know, traditionally in photography, a lot of the time, there is a standardization that comes with doing a series; using the same camera and having a consistency. So I was quite interested in a kind of playful defiance of that standardization and having the freedom to create different shapes because I was hand building the negatives.

Then we've come to volume three which is the most recent part of the work. Here I started to think of taking that idea of the freedom of building different shapes and thinking about the limitations of the frame and trying to break that further, and also to start to think more about this idea of a multi-directional landscape. Something that is read horizontally and vertically at the same time. And thinking a little bit differently about how I was building the negatives, thinking in advance in terms of how it would translate into a printed image and something that was scaled up. 

Beyond the photographs, the work has also expanded to include spatial interventions. I was quite interested in how to allude to the process in a way that wasn't a literal illustration. And actually the first time that I did that was in the show at Photofusion in 2017, which was the first solo show that I had in the UK and where I was showing a selection of volume two. And so the challenge was how do I introduce the idea of the process without literally spelling it out? And so I started to think about the perspex board I'd been using since the beginning of the project where I'd been using it as a practical reason to protect my light box. But somehow it had documented all of the incisions that had been made with my scalpel. And so I started to think about it as a photographic plate, as a source, and made different iterations of that. So in the Photofusion show, it was a scan of that board which then became a vinyl wallpaper. And then the following year I had a solo show in Budapest where I used the same image printed onto a transparent vinyl on the window of the gallery so when you looked in it created this obstruction. And then most recently in 2019 in the solo show that I had with Sid in South Bermondsey, we produced three window drops. In that sense, for me, those iterations always respond very specifically to the exhibition space, and that's something that I really enjoy thinking about. And I think we'll talk about more as well in terms of how the work transforms when it enters an exhibition space.

The other thing that started to come into the exhibition space, which hadn't really come in before in 2018 were sets of studies. The studies are all the prints that I produce in order to reach the final image and are intrinsic to seeing what I'm doing as it's such a blind process of cutting into the negatives and not really knowing what I'm going to get. So all of a sudden, I started to think again about the process and how that could come into the exhibition space in a very different way to the large scale print. My recently published book, Constructed Landscapes, was again another opportunity to think about the material in a slightly different way and to bring in a lot of the process material that usually sits outside of the exhibition space and doesn't get seen. I thought about it as a manual, and I use it as that in a way. And I think that was the other thing that made me think about the relationship to Tamsin's work.

I'm going to finish by showing some install shots from the recent solo booth that Sid and I presented at Photo London in September. Showing the different ways in which the work gets manifested in a space and how that's such a key thing. Something I'm really excited about when I'm making work is thinking about how things will evolve and how they will occupy each space in a very different way. And then the recent piece, if we're talking about 2d and 3d, which I think is very relevant as well to Tamsin's show and the text that was in the book, is a recent piece, which was the first 3d structure that I made for the Constructed Landscapes series. Here I took one negative and that then became panelled into multiple images, which then became a 3d structure.

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Sid Motion: Thank you both very much. I'm going to dive in with some thoughts on the back of that. And then hopefully we can open it out. It's really lovely to hear Dafna talk about construction, but then of course, how your books Tamsin have been made, through the dummy, and then the sustainability for your most recent publication. When I was doing some research about your practice, you describe yourself as an architect as well as an artist. You studied architecture didn't you, and how is that something that comes into your book making and perhaps your exhibition display? 

Tamsin Green: Yes I studied architecture in London and later in Japan. I think when I first started taking photographs and making books, I tried to hide from this training. I was looking at that time at a lot of photobooks by Japanese photographers like Daido Moriyama, which are books filled only with photographs. And I thought, okay, I've got to kind of leave all those other things behind and just use photographs, no text, nothing else. And then as I started to explore especially the landscape in my work, I started to think maybe there was a way that my other training could come into the work and could add layers of meaning. And one of the things that's amazing about a book is that it can take two dimensional images and introduce a three dimensional structure. They also allow experimentation with multiple forms of media; drawings, text and photographs. So I began to kind of embrace these other skills and other influences and to be much freer about how I saw the book. And I think that's come through in these two bodies of work. 

Sid Motion: Well thank goodness that you were brave enough to sort of look back and forward at once. It's something Dafna and I talk about a lot in the sense of sitting very firmly in the world of photography, but actually being a fine artist as well. And in terms of collage making and now moving into sculpture. So the book plays an interesting role in all of those things and the meeting points of those ideas. And brilliantly touched upon words, which feels more important in your practice now than ever. So perhaps you could elaborate because as we’ve seen in this exhibition, there's some writing on the wall, which is from some journals that you kept when you were in the wild, is that right?

Tamsin Green: Yes. So the two books which make up this exhibition were very much referencing scientific books. So they have snippets of text, which refer to definitions of geological terms or map terms, but I deliberately did not really include my own voice in the text. But last summer I spent a period of time exploring my own boundaries and relationship with the landscape while sleeping in remote places. And I found myself when I awoke from sleep and first went walking in the mornings to gravitate towards writing. And some of what's on the wall of the exhibition is what came out in those sessions of sitting in the landscape and writing. And I never intended to share those words with anybody, I just found myself wanting to do it. But when I did share the words in critique sessions when talking about the work that I was making, I was encouraged to use the words in my work. So the small publication that accompanies the exhibition has maybe seven or eight of those snippets of raw thoughts. And then there's three on walls of the exhibition.

Sid Motion: And we were just saying before we sat down how the placement of them on the wall, furthers the idea of walking and the pace of the experience you had in the landscape. It's a funny connection between the two of you as well, because Dafna, your Photofusion publication didn't have any images either. So you decided to make a publication that was just words.

Dafna Talmor: Absolutely. So for the solo show, I remember thinking about the publication and thinking how, because the work was in the space, I was interested in bringing in text or giving the text more of a focus and also bringing other people's voices in. So I commissioned five writers to respond in whatever way they wanted. I got two essays and three more experimental writing like poems. And it was a very small format book. And then the only image in a way that was included was on the dust jacket, which was the scan of the same board that I had used for the vinyl in the exhibition. So there was that connection between the book object and then the exhibition space. But then I was interested in how that became something very different once you took it away from the exhibition and how the words might evoke certain ideas of landscape in a very different way than the images do. Maybe someone would see the work in the show and have the publication, but then they take it away. And then there's the memory of the images. And then there are the words. I’m really interested in that relationship between text and image in lots of different ways.

Sid Motion: Interesting that it's something that you're both interested in, but you've never combined text and image in the same planes yet, but perhaps that's the direction that you are moving in outside of the book format. 

You've both spoken brilliantly separately about process, but perhaps it's something we can unpack a little bit. Actually it was something Kim said when we were having a call together: Both artists arrive at ideas through process, but process is not the idea, which is something I put in my notes because I just thought that was so lovely. Sitting in your exhibition it is also very relevant to talk about construction in terms of process because the celebration of materials in the work is something that really comes to the fore in the sewn pieces. The stitch is really used in a way that it has a place. It has a voice. Some of these am I right in thinking are printed on bookmaking materials?

Tamsin Green: The idea with the exhibition was to use humble materials, which are used in book making and map making, and that are often hidden. All of the maquettes are mounted onto bookboard, which in traditional bookmaking would be covered by fabric. The material that the large pieces are printed on is used in archival map processes to mount. So it's used on the back surface to give the paper map more strength. And early Ordnance Survey maps were dissected and mounted on to this fabric. So again, it's something which isn't made to be seen. But somehow these materials all had quite a natural feel. The bookboard is made from recycled material and the fabric is sustainably made,  carrying through my ethos of low environmental impact, into these physical works. The subject of my work is often exploring familiar things, but seeing them anew, so it made sense to me to do this also with the materiality of the exhibition.

Sid Motion: You've been brave Dafna in allowing us to see some of the construction. So an introduction of a drawn line or a piece of tape, it was something in your presentation that obviously came in at a certain stage?

Dafna Talmor: So as I mentioned, when I started making the work, I was developing it purely in response to the experimentation in the darkroom. So in a sense, I didn't really have a set idea of what I was aiming to make and I was very much responding to the way that the material behaved. And so I think the more that the work developed, the more that there were different aspects of the process that came through in the work that spoke to me in a way that that was particularly interesting. Thinking about the idea of the construction of images, the construction of landscape, the way that we experience images that are representations of landscape, versus our actual experience of the landscape. And so I think there were all sorts of things that again, sometimes started with the practical function, for example, the tape holding things in place because otherwise the fragments would go everywhere. So that was the mechanism that was necessary to build the negative, but then somehow that came through visually. And how it behaved and how it responded to the light bouncing in the enlarger and how, when it got printed, it had a certain quality that was very particular to hand printing in a colour darkroom. And as you say, I like using a pen to make outlines, to be able to follow the line, because I was cutting on a very small surface. And so again, those practical reasons ended up being embedded within the image, which then produced a certain visual language that was inherent to the work. And in a way can't be separated even though it has a practical function, it then manifest in a visual sense, which then is read in lots of different ways, conceptually. So that's something I feel like I'm always interested in, how something can start off having that practical function, but then moves into a conceptual space. 

Sid Motion: In both of your work, it's not clear where we are when you are looking at the landscape. There's an absence of people of course, which we can kind of move on to talk about, but in terms of the identity of the landscape, you are following a very clear route with your Ordnance Survey and then to come at your work objectively, you're not placing us necessarily anywhere too precise. Is that something that you are trying to achieve a sort of nomadic landscape?

Tamsin Green: Yes. None of my work is about anywhere in particular and it's not important to me that people know where they are or what they're looking at. And especially with the books, through the pairing of the images, I try to even confuse people about what they're looking at. Especially with scale, playing with things that are very large and things that are very small. And by combining images, you can start to see the big in the small and the small in the big, but also to play with whether things are upside down or whether things are turned on their side. And that's all from my own experience of going out into the landscape and never really seeing the landscape as something that's got a horizontal horizon and that's all perfectly straight. But instead going up to things you tilt your head to look, you sleep in the landscape on your side and you wake up and you look at the landscape and it's upside down. So there's so many kinds of different perspectives that you get when you are curious and you're going out and exploring. So for me, the representation of what I am seeing and the images that I make when I'm out in the landscape should respond to that kind of following of curiosity and ambiguity of what it is that you're seeing.

Sid Motion: And through editing and cropping you are doing that so well. And of course Dafna you are cutting your negatives, which is removing the presence of anything that we might recognise.

Dafna Talmor: Absolutely. What you just said, I feel like I can relate to on so many levels. That idea of trying to convey or represent something that is closer to the experience of a landscape in terms of those multiple perspectives. I was talking about the fact that when you look at a landscape, you're not in a fixed position, you're scanning it. And so in a way to kind of try and challenge or playfully separate that very Western convention of one point perspective or certain rules that are adhered to when you photograph a landscape. That’s something that came about a lot more from volume two onwards is that conflation of perspectives. And then also this idea of disorientating the viewer and not really giving a specific location away because in a way I was interested in stripping those places of their specificity in order to allow that space for the viewer to inhabit it in their own way. Rather than having a very specific narrative that tends to be tied or linked to specific locations, especially with photography, which is so loaded and especially landscape, in terms of politics.

I also would say there's an attempt to empty those landscapes of their specificity. But on the other hand, I also acknowledge that it's a bit more complicated than that. I think at least in my case, because I feel like as much as we can try to remove that specificity or strip it in some way, because it's photography and it's indexical, there's always going to be the residue and that link to those connotations that come with these particularly loaded places. I always say it's a kind of utopian aspiration. But I'm interested in that impossibility and those contradictions and the limitations that photography holds.

Sid Motion: I think that to reconstruct landscape in a photographic way is sort of impossible is perhaps what you are both saying. By wanting to look up down left, right, all at once. And I think the scale you've spoken so brilliantly Tamsin about the sort of macro and micro sitting together and being able to explore the landscape in the way that you might hold something in your hand while looking out to sea all at once. It's a lovely thing that you are creating and perhaps it's a moment to talk about the exhibition and the choices that you've made as we're sitting in them. Something I've been really excited about is how you've used light in the exhibition and shadow and how some of the more stylistic choices, of course pink walls, and how that echoes really with the works that you've chosen to show. I think you touched upon it earlier, but these are the largest works that you've made. And of course, to have a reading room. You've made so many choices, perhaps you could tell us a little more about your thinking and the selection of the work?

Tamsin Green: Yes. So at this point, I should say that although a lot of the ideas for the exhibition were mine, I was also working with Kim Shaw at the early stages who was helping me to navigate this exhibition. And later on in the process, also with Katie Barron, who was speaking with me about the work and how I could translate it into an exhibition. And both of those voices in the process were incredibly important in helping me to figure out how the work should sit within a space. And so the colour. I think when I said I was painting the walls pink, everyone thought I'd gone a bit mad because it's not an obvious colour for me to have chosen. But there is pink within the body of work about salt, and that is because it was a colour that was within the landscape itself. But actually the choice of the colour was very much about thinking about the materials that I was using in the exhibition and trying to find a colour which worked with the subtlety of some of the work. When I tried to place the work on a white background it felt far too harsh. It was very much a process of trying samples. I guess, going back to my architectural background, of looking at materials and colours, and seeing how the work sat in relationship to them. When I placed this pink colour with the materials I liked how it all started to sit together and also that some of the materials visually receded into the background allowing the photographs to come forward.

Sid Motion: Dafna and I always have conversations about how big things should be too. So it's something that I think I've got in my head when I see particularly photographic exhibitions around landscape. I'm always wondering about conversations we've had in the past. But Dafna, it's always interesting that you think that negatives dictate how big they should be. They tell you.

Dafna Talmor: It's a funny thing about scale because I find so much of it is quite intuitive. And I don't know if you feel the same Tamsin, but for me, scale is so intrinsic to the decisions that I make. And again, very collaboratively. So for example, when I work with Sid, whether it was for the booth at Photo London, or whether it was for a solo show in 2019 and here at Photofusion in 2017. I think there’s something that I find particularly exciting about the possibility that a negative presents. And again, that idea of how you have something at a very small scale, which then enables you through reproduction, different modes of reproduction, to think about the details that you want people to be able to pick up on and where it becomes maybe too much, and you start to push it and the image can't quite take it. Then also the relationship between the images themselves on the wall. And then of course there are issues of scale when you think about it in a book for format. So I feel like there are so many decisions about scale that rely on and hinge around the context in which the work is presented. I just think that one of the most enjoyable things when you make the work is thinking about how it's going to occupy a space, whatever space that is, and thinking about those relationships between the different objects or images and the text.

Sid Motion: I mustn't overrun. And I must let you ask questions, but I think it would be an oversight if I didn't ask you about colour. Because of course, you make black and white photographs. What you are achieving in terms of texture, especially in the materials you choose, is completely amazing for what you do in black and white. But it's not the most conventional choice in terms of documenting the landscape.

Tamsin Green: So this is a strange thing that when I started taking photographs, I never thought to use colour. I think it comes back to my training of drawing with pencils, and representing architectural details and designs through black and white drawings. You’re not allowed to use colour in construction drawings because they get photocopied on site. So everything has to be represented with different hatches and line-weights in black and white. When I started photographing in the landscape, I just naturally used black and white, perhaps because as you mention I’m drawn to textures and to light and shadow. But when I work with books, there is the opportunity to bring colour in through materials and other elements of the book. So I'm working with black and white representation, but also thinking about how colour gives people clues to other parts of the story or information that's missing by representing the landscape in this way. And that also references science where often scientific illustrations were traditionally made in black and white, because colour was seen to be something that was very subjective. The colour details were often described in text. So I'm also interested in that relationship of playing with colour and black and white.

Sid Motion: Not to sound too obvious about the point, but you're also bringing it to life quite literally by allowing the 2d replicate images to move in this amazing way. You've turned the noisy fan off, but the paper moves, and these beautiful flag like images start to actually have a life outside their immediate boundaries.

Tamsin Green: So that's something very deliberate in having nothing behind glass and especially no books in vitrines or that you can't touch. So the deconstructed books are on the walls. People are welcome to touch them and to go through them. And I like the fact that the materials will become creased, they'll curl, and respond to the environment that they're in. For me that adds to the materiality of the work rather than trying to keep things pristine and protected.

•    •    •

Sid Motion: Does anyone have any questions?

Audience: I wonder about your sleeping in the wild, which is really amazing when you are going by yourself? How it really informs the landscape images that you take? They have a certain very dreamlike quality which is very much enhanced by the presentation which is really wonderful. Could you talk a bit more about that? 

Tamsin Green: The salt body of work was where I first started to explore walking on my own in the landscape, so that work was made all over Europe. And it was the first time that I was really going out in to the landscape on my own and walking to remote places. Through the second body of work, which is the Ordinance Survey work, this is where I started to sleep in the landscape and to try and push my own boundaries. The sleeping wild came later and it came through into this exhibition though the text, both on the walls and in the publication. I think it is a connected journey of seeing how I can push my own boundaries and comfort levels. It's not something I thought that I'd ever be able to do, but I wanted to try and achieve it because I feel like it will change my relationship to the landscape and the work that I will make. It will give me a different perspective and a different connection to the places that I'm spending time in. So we'll see what comes next with the body of work that I am currently making. 

Sid Motion: You said when we were preparing for this that the further away you get from humanity, the safer it feels.

Tamsin Green: Well yes, if you've had to walk all day to reach somewhere then it feels like if somebody was opportunistically looking, they probably wouldn't walk all day. They would probably find someone who was camping on the side of a town nearby. So when I actually went to very remote places and slept it was just incredibly peaceful and the kind of dangers or the fears that I'd felt like I would have were actually more about the weather and the conditions rather than other people, which is where my original fears lay. So it very much changed.

Audience: I want to talk about something that you mentioned earlier. Probably I didn't get it right but you mentioned that the location is not necessarily important for you. But in the reading room at the back of the gallery there is a map showing where you have been. What is the idea behind this, is that place particularly special to this exhibition? 

Tamsin Green: So I think when I put together the exhibition, I realised there were a lot of references to maps. But I also wanted to show how the maps are used as a tool to make the work. So rather than just being the subject of the work, the map is also something that accompanies me when I'm making the work. And I use it, I draw on it, I annotate it. I completely turn off my phone and unplug myself. So I don't use any GPS, I just use a map and a compass. I'm making a lot of annotations about things which I might need because I'm not going to have an opportunity to look it up while I'm away. So I wanted to show that it was a part of the process and not just the subject of the work. But you're right, it brings in the location which you can't really avoid as soon as you show the front surface of the map.

Kim Shaw: I have a question for both of you. I think with both of you, the prospect of failure is very much a part of your process. Dafna, I don't know what it must be like to sit and cut up a negative and think, well if this doesn't work I don't get a second chance. You have to really take a deep breath and be prepared for that to be a part of your process. And also with you Tamsin, I've watched you invest a heck of a lot of time in maquettes that don't work. And so I just wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you prepare yourself for that? How do you make that a part of your process? For a lot of us the thought of that happening, of getting to the end and it not working at all, or ruining all your negatives would almost stop us from going. So how do you prepare yourself psychologically to maybe waste your time and all your negatives?

Dafna Talmor: Thank you for that. I think what I feel about my negatives is very different to what a lot of people feel about theirs. Which is that in a way they're there as source material, they're there as possibilities. And because in themselves, I feel they're not interesting, then I'm quite liberated from that preciousness. But of course, what I always then point out is that once I cut up my negatives and I put them together in a particular way, that becomes my precious master negative. Which I know seems a bit ironic, but that's how it works. And I think the risk of failure is part of what I enjoy about the process. I think there's something in the fact that it's irreversible. Once I make that cut, I can't go back, it is again at the core of the process. And I guess it's thinking also about it in relation or in contrast to digital manipulation and how you can undo. And so there's something, again, quite liberating about the finite nature of once you make that decision, you have to go with it and you also have to embrace the mistakes and the imperfections and the indecision. I feel like all of that gets fed into the work and again, manifests in particular ways that are interesting to me.

Tamsin Green: I don't really see anything that I do as a waste of time. I just follow what I'm interested in and kind of trust that it will go somewhere. Even if I test something on this project that doesn't help with that idea, or doesn't lead to anything, who knows what might come of it, or how it might go into another piece of work. Something I started to do during the lockdown, was to start to archive all those mistakes and tests into one kind of big sketchbook. It’s been really interesting to look back at all the things that didn't go anywhere. It's become the source book of all the dead ends that I went down. But somehow I can also see links, which I hadn't realised there were with some of the work that I'm now making. So I just think you trust the process of following your curiosity and intuition, and you don't really know where those things might lead.

Sid Motion: Maybe it'll be the thing that you go to when you start the next project all the time, sort of pool from your resources.

•    •    •

Kim Shaw: Well, thank you everyone for coming and for joining us in our space. Now I have to thank the three of you. Like I said at the beginning, this is a talk that I’ve really been looking forward to, three of my favourite people, and it makes sense because of the links between you all. There’s this feel for construction that we've talked about. I know that's what Sid’s artists, a lot of them, have in common and share that curiosity around construction. And also this idea of process, which we talk about a lot here at Photofusion. Because we have darkrooms and we've got alternative process darkrooms. And so there's lots of conversation around process. But I think that process can't be the idea, and I think both of you are really good examples of how the process is so important to your work, but it's not the idea, it's a further expression of an idea that exists.

I think that maybe because that's your orientation, when you fill three dimensional space with your work, that becomes a process as well. How do you think about the space? How do you realise an idea in this space? And and so when I think back through the history of exhibitions at Photofusion these are two really exciting exhibitions, because you have taken a space and you've tried to work with it in a very different way and in a way that elaborates the process again. So everything's just beautifully resolved over and over again in every possible way. So I was just really pleased to get you together to talk about this. And thank you.

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