Let the sunshine in

Two photographers and a geologist have joined forces to create an exploration of light and time for Scarborough’s annual Coastival arts festival.

Sol8, which is so named for the eight minutes it takes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth, will feature a camera obscura, photography of the geology of Scarborough printed using a Victorian technique, and an eight-minute sketch challenge. It can be seen in the Gallery at Woodend, on Scarborough’s Crescent, throughout February.

The Sol8 team is photographers Tony Bartholomew and David Chalmers, and geologist Will Watts.

Camera obscura is the name for a very simple optical device which can be a box, or even a room, in which a beam of light passing through a hole produces a projected and inverted image onto a wall or a piece of paper.

Artists from Da Vinci, who used the technique to study perspective, to the Dutch masters, notably Vermeer, made use of pinhole camera techniques to produce their work. It’s also thought that John Atkinson Grimshaw, who was interested in photography, may have used a camera obscura to project outlines onto canvas of local scenes in Scarborough.

A simple camera obscura has been installed in the Gallery at Woodend, projecting an image of the skyline of The Valley outside onto the white wall of the gallery.

Tony Bartholomew says: “In these days of instant digital imaging we thought it would be great fun to take us back to the very early days of creating and recording an image.”

Also on display are images of the sandstone strata of the South Bay by David Chalmers, printed on Indian rag paper using a salt printing technique.

Visitors to Sol8 will also be invited to take up the eight-minute sketch challenge.

Will Watts says: “The challenge is simple: turn over a sand timer as a photon of light leaves the Sun and you have eight minutes to complete your sketch before that photon hits your paper. The subject of your sketch is up to you – perhaps you have been inspired by the camera obscura view out of the windows in front of you, or by the geology in the salt print. When you have finished we will add your sketch to the wall to build up a series of eight-minute snapshots as recorded by visitors.”

Sol8 can be seen at the Gallery at Woodend throughout February, 9am-5pm Mondays to Fridays, and 10am-4pm Saturdays.

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