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Chelsea Flower Show – An Outdoor Gallery

Landscape Photographer meets Chelsea Flower Show

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

Flickr, Facebook, Twitter

David Anthony Hall is an Irish landscape photographer specialising in very large prints, mostly panoramas, of groups of trees (although this is not all he does). He has recently worked with a garden designer to produce an outdoor garden exhibition for the Chelsea Flower show...

You've recently had your photographs used as part of an exhibit at the Chelsea Flower show. Can you let us know a little about how this came about and the challenges of working in support of another creative project?

The urban garden was created by Thompsons Gallery to show the harmonious link between art and the creative outdoor space. The idea was the brainchild of gallery owner, Sue Thompson.

As a Landscape Artist I constantly strive to find locations of significant interest in order to capture my work in the manner I wish it best enjoyed. The garden environment, as my gallery, has opened up the way in which my work can co-exist with its surroundings. However, with this exciting new approach the technical challenges must be closely addressed. Art in the garden, in this way, has not yet been explored fully. There are many ways in which my images can be finished, each with a varying degree of permanency. As yet, technology does not offer a perfect solution to provide the high quality images I wish to portray in a totally outdoor proof application.

The pictures will obviously be subject to some 'environmental stress' (i.e. rain and kids fingers) how did/are they coping and did you do any testing/research?

Over the past two years I have been conducting my own test in my garden with a number of Dibond face mounted on Perspex prints. I have been delighted to witness no colour shift, but as expected there has been degradation to the print. The Dibond aluminium backing and the Perspex has split which has allowed some moisture to seep into the print, causing some staining.

Furthermore I have carried out lengthy research and spoken to a number of industry experts about the permanency of my work outdoors. The response on this subject is indicative of the avant-garde nature of this project. At best the estimations I have been given range from three years to a maximum of nine, determined by a number of factors including the type of finish.

Prolonging the life of outdoor prints

Sunlight – As much as we love to see it, sunlight does in this case cause the biggest effect to prints outdoors. The best possible place for the work would be on a north facing wall or in a position with little or no sunlight.

Temperatures – Gradual changes in temperature are not a major factor, however large swings of temperature or extremely high temperatures may damage the quality of the prints.

Humidity – Luckily in the UK we don’t suffer the same type of humidity as our Mediterranean neighbours, but we do get our fair share of rain which should be avoided especially with face mounted work.

Finishing Solutions

Liquid Laminate on Vinyl

This solution provides a weather resistant finish as well as keeping production costs to a minimum. Suggested life – up to nine years.

Conventional Diabond Face Mounting on to Perspex (as displayed in the Chelsea Garden)

Whilst this does provide my favoured finish and most of my indoor images are finished in this way, it will not stand the test of time outdoors. It will also prove an expensive way of exhibiting work for what would ultimately become a short lifespan.

Modified Face Mounting on to Perspex

By modifying the process detailed above we hope to achieve up to nine years in the outdoor space and possibly more with the right conditions. The process would require printing onto vinyl and then face mounting onto Perspex with Perspex backing and finally sealing the edges with an Aluminium frame.

Choosing pictures and sizes must have been difficult? How did you go about this and did you have any constraints to work under?

At 250 cm wide the scale of my panoramics aim to capture ones peripheral vision when viewed from a distance of up to two meters compelling the viewer to take a closer look and on even closer to pick out the finer details. With this three-stage approach it has been suggested I’m creating a window for the viewer and inviting them to climb through.

For me there is a lot of satisfaction in producing larger work simply put - there is nowhere to hide when you print your pictures this big. Technically you have to be spot on and when you set out to capture a scene that’s going to be finished at sizes up to 150 cm x 300 cm you have to take your time and plan the shoot from end to beginning.

I’ve printed my work up to eleven meters wide but in the UK the largest piece of Perspex I can finish is 150 x 300 cm by finishing in Germany I can get up to 180 x 330 cm. However I have plans for some really huge public art pieces and I have a personal ambition to cover a London Underground platform with some of my woodland images.

You've contributed a few pictures to charity and most recently a Bluebell picture. Did you supply a finished print and how did the sales of these pictures go?

All charity work is supplied finished, I raised £12,820 for the London charity, Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS). The image ‘Bluebell Woodland’ 150 cm x 300 cm was part of a body of work that formed the inspiration behind a concept garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Thompson’s Gallery, who devised the garden, waived their fees, as did the other suppliers, which includes finishers Genesis and Canon UK & printer distributors Velmex. The new owner has also gift-aided her donation enabling the charity to benefit from the extra £2,820.

Thanks very much for your time and if people wish to see more of your work, where should they go?

Solo show runs until 24th June Private View Wednesday 8th June 6pm-8pm

You can see more of David's photography at his website or by following his Twitter or Facebook accounts

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