The magic of layers

First of all, an apology: this blog has been sorely neglected for too long. I’ve been focusing on Instagram and this poor blog has slipped out of sight. Not any more! It’s going to be back and buzzing now (that’s my intention, anyway).

If you follow me on Instagram (@foundandchosen) — and I very much hope you do — you’ll know that I’m keen on old postcards. I’ve got hundreds, if not thousands, now, mainly thanks to having bought an enormous lot in an auction sale recently. When assessing large quantities of old cards for their desirability, my main criterion is whether they have blue sky. This is my shortcut to finding the sort of cards I like best, which are just ordinary souvenir postcards, usually from the Sixties and Seventies. You can often see little strips of blue sky sticking up when a lot of old postcards are crammed together in boxes and as my family can’t be expected to stand around while I carefully look through zillions of cards, I’ve had to develop a super-quick selection method.

When you accumulate a lot of postcards, you start to find multiple images of the same place and this phenomenon has given rise to what I call my ‘overlay prints’. Using different degrees of opacity, you can lay scans of postcards over each other to pleasing effect. I like it, anyway. In the above print, ‘Five Views of the Eiffel Tower’, the woman on the left in the white coat is in two of the five cards I’ve used, so she must have stayed standing there while the photographer took his shots, while all the other people came and went. The Tower makes a focal point for the image, and ties the layers together, even when some of the individual pictures were taken from very different viewpoints.

Six Views of Bristol Suspension Bridge

Here’s another of my overlay prints, ‘Six Views of Bristol Suspension Bridge’, which uses the bridge as the ‘still point’ tying everything together. I like the way that the eye can’t fully resolve all the layers in relation to each other: in the end you just have to accept that there are things going on that you can’t make sense of.

I’ve also tried to make overlay prints using sequences of photos. I found three photos taken outside the Palm Court Hotel in Torquay (in the Thirties, going by the photos).

These are the photos:

And this is how they look superimposed:

Intriguingly ghostly, but I don’t count this as the greatest success.

This one, on the other hand, I like very much.

Christ Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I particularly like the sense of the people coming and going. I’ll just show you a couple more favourites. In 2019 I was very lucky to have an overlay print accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It was called ‘Six Views of Pisa’.

It was such a great experience having a picture in that venerable show. I hope it won’t be the first and last time I manage to get something in there. I felt I’d been admitted to a club (still feeling the old Impostor Syndrome, of course, but, even so, I had the invite clutched in my hand!). Here’s’ my picture on the wall in Room VII:

But it was a picture above mine that was discussed for the BBC2 show!

The latest two overlay prints I’ve done are of the Parachute Jump in Coney Island, one of my favourite structures in the world, and the Long Man of Wilmington in East Sussex.

I think the Long Man is the most decorative one I’ve done. I’ve just made these last three prints available on the Found and Chosen Etsy shop, so please do take a look, if you like them.

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