Anna Souter : Photosynthesis

Anna Souter

For this writing commission Anna Souter wrote a creative fiction which explores the notions of light and dark through the lens of a quarantined photographer in her garden who both photographs and cares for her plants. The piece evokes a notion of kinship between photographer, photograph and plant, drawing on the parallels between photosynthesis and the ‘writing with light’ of photography. It also explores the contrasting but complementary photographic spaces of the makeshift darkroom (like seeds germinating in darkness) and the open sky for cyanotyping (like green leaves producing energy from the sun’s rays). This text is inspired in part by the Quarantine Herbarium, a participatory botanical photography project established by Gem Toes-Crichton, William Arnold-Goldstrom and John Blythe during lockdown. It also looks back across the history of photography, with a nod to some of its earliest examples in Anna Atkin’s botanical cyanotypes.

by Anna Souter

Ayra wakes to another day of shielding. It’s hot even though it’s still early. She gets up to pour herself a glass of water and the morning sunlight gleams on the dirty glass. She talks to herself as she puts in her contact lenses. She’s not sure why she doesn’t just wear her glasses when there’s no one there to see her.

Here we go again, she says.

Her reflection stares back at her, its shadowed contours made unfamiliar by the harsh shaving light above the mirror. There are no windows in the bathroom, so she’s turned it into a makeshift darkroom, swapping out the old yellow lightbulb for a red one. There’s a roll of masking tape on top of the toilet cistern for sealing the door later. She takes one small white pill from the packet under the sink. The foil is labelled with the days of the week, an edible diary.

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Image Credit: Quarantine Herbarium, Alice Mahoney

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.