a question of presence.

As an encaustic artist and photographer, I could not have imagined I would have the opportunity to purchase 5 boxes of glass negatives from the turn of the last century.

As I opened some of the wooden boxes, some of the yellowing paper from the handmade folders that held the negatives disintegrated in my hands. Other folders are made of cardboard.  All are marked with writing and some with red labels. 

Many negatives are stored in boxes with the name “Kodak” on the top of the boxes. Some are more interesting than others.  Moisture and time has affected many of the images. The emulsion on edges of the negatives have fused together causing a  multitude of patterns on the glass. It became clear to me:  I found the works of a photographer, from 1899  whose name I might never know.

This collection of photographs is a time capsule.  I felt a tremendous responsibility towards the photographer,  to represent the imagery they captured with integrity. The children in the photographs are particularly interesting.  Their clothes, toys and the way they are dressed are truly from a forgotten era and yet it was a timeof flux, a time of many important changes, the discovery of electricity and telephones ….. I found one photograph of a phone on a wall!

I have no doubt that the photographer had no idea one day their work would be the source of such inspiration and pleasure in the hands of another artist.

Materials: Encaustics and mixed media on wood

lesley ann price