Before refining his photographic process to make his prints light-fast, Fox Talbot made photograms, or heliograms as he called them. Photo sensitive materials were not very advanced and required hours of exposure in sunlight to darken, so Fox Talbot experimented by placing leaves in contact with his paper to produce a simple design of light and dark.

They are rarely popular with true photographers, being closer to mark-making than ‘capturing the moment’. Other artists enjoy the immediacy of the results but often lack the skills or discipline to fully exploit the process. Notable exceptions are Dadaist and surrealist Man Ray (who called them Rayographs), painter Christian Schad (who called them Schadographs), and the Bauhaus artist and teacher Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. The most adventurous modern exponent is Susan Derges.

My interest in photograms runs in parallel to my continuing investigations into flat textured surfaces in simple compositional designs. In my mind in both cases are the paintings of Mondrian, Albers, Frank Stella, and Pollock.

Martin Urmson

All images are the copyright of Martin Urmson