FLEUR OLBY | SETTLE, UK
I established as a still life photographer in London (1993) working for editorial, design and advertising clients. Imagery has been used across different market sectors from fashion to food.
Photography evolved from printmaking, design and paper making; I love the diversity of the medium – at the heart of it, the desire to convey detail in essence of its simplest form.
A seven-year body of work for, ‘The Observer,’ forms part of my monograph ‘Fleur,’ Plant Portraits, published by Fuel Publishing.
Through recent collaborative projects, some of these images have developed into installations: ‘Green on White’ in Yorkshire, ‘Horsetail Equisetum,’ for Gollifer Langston Architects in London, and textile designs for Woven Image in Australia.
Growing up in rural Yorkshire instilled a love of Nature which has greatly influenced me.
I continue to develop a long-term project, ‘Colour from Black,’ series, which look at the sense of place through my connection with nature in rural areas of northern UK.
What is your work about?
This sequence looks at nature through an interconnected scape portraying the sense of a place within the changing nature of its environment.
Crops, religion, mysticism historically resonate in this upland landscape:
Surrounded by agriculture, monastic plight intermingled, high in biodiversity – this is scrub birch copse, peatland, and mire.
It contributes to the wider ecosystem through the storage of large amounts of carbon, controls flooding and sustains rare species.
I have attempted to capture the subtle beauty of this place, using the Polaroid format frame to represent the childhood memory it evokes, combined with the full frame to portray my present day connection; utilising the subtelty of the medium to merge this parallel.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
I started using Polaroid in 5/4 format in the studio; it was a process of experimentation before finalising an image for the film.
The medium, its chemical transference of the picture always fascinated me – the right temperature, the right timing. The smell.
When I began working on location, I started using medium format, Fuji Instant 100. The process although technically the same became different in my approach.
I wasn’t using it as experimentation; I was using it as an interpretation – the pictures contain a purity – almost a naivety in the way the emulsion sinks resulting in a soft image. And due to the smaller size a tactile quality that makes them objects of themselves.
I filed them. Now I am revisiting. There are scratches and thumbprints and errors with light leaking. I like the imperfections in the medium which portray my interaction.
It is the interaction which makes the connection and informs my practice.