Anna Atkins Exhibition Answers & Image Typology

  1. SKETCH: Select 3 images from the exhibition and create studies of them in your sketchbook. (please scan /photograph your studies and include them in the document with your responses)

  2. OBSERVATION & SKILL: Anna Atkins skill as an observer and a drawer of things are seen from an early age. What is the relationship between observation and the ability / skill to reproduce the world around you? it’s like depicting what you see and representing it with a medium that is different and inventive. artist’s ability is to depict the world around them as they see it.
  3. FAMILY SYMBIOSIS: How was Anna Atkins’ relationship with her father symbiotic for both her (and his) work? her father was a scientist and with the absence of her mother her dad was her first and most influencer so he taught her his work and he developed a program for children and was inspired by her.
  4. COLLECTION / ARCHIVE: What do you think is the value of collecting/preserving plants or species? What is the value of creating a record or archive (in general)?recording what was visually present and available for recording. it is sort of a record of the process of thinking and experimenting with things.
  5. POWER OF PRINT: These original Cyanotype prints are about 165-75 years old. What do you notice about the quality of the cyanotype image (detail, transparency, crispness of image, etc)? What about the materiality of the paper? How have the Cyanotypes endured over time and through history (durability of the image)? very good and crisp details. the paper is a little wrinkly but very well preserved and high quality.
  6. SERIES / VOLUMES: When creating work, presentation matters. What do you notice about how Atkins presentation evolved over the years? How do you think her thinking about the collection / presentation of her work (from slimmer notebook-zine-size series, to more substantial encyclopedic volumes) changed over time? Note that during that period, collections of prints were often sold as groups of sheets, not bound so the collector could match the binding style of their book collection…but still it seems Atkins ‘grouped’ her work differently over time. her presentation definitely  changed, they were books at first and then moved to single framed (?) prints. maybe the value of her work changed to she wanted to have them as separate sheets of prints later on to increase the importance of what she did. i think that her presentation of her work changed purely because of her progression doing these prints.
  7. INDIVIDUALITY / AUTHORSHIP: What differentiates Atkins’ work from others of her time? Do you think she had a unique individual style? What do you think about her signing her work AA? Was her humility as an artist/photographer/scientist to be respected? Atkins expanded her limitations of what she can use and do to record data and images. with drawing, she invented her own way of ‘photographing’ or ‘photocopying’ her specimens for extremely detailed and accurate representations. that itself made her different as it was a very new way of making prints. most of them were drawing at her time but the drawings may not be accurate and understandable. her work and the way she made her work, is very telling about her and the kind of person she was and her experiences.


after reviewing Anna Atkins’ work, i realized that in this modern age, it’s very hard to make something authentic, long lasting, and made into a giant series. it is not my type of tea to make a series but thinking about that was challenging i must say. i tried to think of a material i would use for a series of 400 images that i wouldn’t get bored using and won’t restrict me too much, and i thought about textiles/sewing/crocheting. textiles and knits can last a long time. and if i were to make a series of 400 images, i’ll be using textile scraps and that will contribute with the textile waste that is turning into a big problem now. here i tried to show an abstraction of what the image is. i’m emphasizing the different view an artist has on things; the way an artist may see things.

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