Cyanotype Workshop | Rajat Gajjar
18 August 2017

As a part of its print studio programming, CONA had invited Rajat Gajjar to conduct a workshop on cyanotype printing process. Cyanotype is an alternative photo printing process which was used extensively by the esteemed botanist Anna Atkins to document various flora. The workshop was conducted in collaboration with the school of environment and architecture (SEA) situated in Borivali West, Mumbai. It was designed in a manner that the students could understand the relation between built form and environment. Intensive discussions about nature and its relationship with built forms and vice versa was the focus. The students eventually came up with documentation work of the flora in and around their college space. The workshop was conducted both, at CONA and the college premise.

Cyanotype as a medium is more about developing an image that is close to what the object is, rather than taking two similar images i.e. taking multiples. While we were ideating about the nitty gritty’s of the workshop, one question that came in mind was, how do we make the workshop more architecture centric? Keeping this in mind, we began by approaching the workshop through the idea of botanical documentation and its possibilities for landscape architecture.

The week before we began our sessions with the students of the architecture college, we invited practitioners from the fine arts and photography background. This was intended as a way of opening up the possibility of aesthetic exploration of their personal practice in the direction of cyanotype process. These sessions were more personalised as the participants had one on one interaction with Rajat to understand the medium and its possibilities in their practice. The first day of the workshop with the architecture students was dedicated to discussions on art, architecture, their personal explorations within and beyond their academic systems. This session helped Rajat and the participants to become more aware of each other's working methodologies and process. This session took place at CONA. On the second day, discussions about the surroundings of the college space, its flora, etc took place at the college premise. Here we had a group discussion with the students of gardening. This brought in diverse ideas and opinions for the students to ponder upon. Here they also collected various plant specimens to be documented using cyanotype process. The next couple of days were spent at the darkroom created at CONA where the actual printing and developing of the negatives took place.

The students were given guidance about the chemical process, treatment of paper and negatives, etc. Behind each print, the students maintained a log of the exposure time, chemical composition, drying time, etc. On the final day, the cyanotype prints were displayed at the college premise near the gardening space. Rajat also did a demonstration of the process at the college for students and faculty members.

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