Single Image Category
photography and text by
S. Gayle Stevens
Calligraphy consists of a series of wet plate collodion tintype photogenic drawings of plant and animal specimens
I have collected on walks near my home and in my travels.
This series is inspired by cabinets of curiosity, natural
history collections from the 17th century, and the precursor of museums. The original meaning of cabinet was a
small room; these rooms housed collections of plants, preserved animals and minerals. My collection contains
diverse plant and animal remains.
I have always been intrigued by what is overlooked in daily life and these
objects are cherished for the unique beauty of their sparse remains.
I have rendered my drawings of these specimens in wet plate collodion. The silhouettes of the photogenic
drawings are rendered as black shadows and echo the brushstrokes in Chinese calligraphy, sparse yet
Changeable as the original specimens, the silver rich plates are unvarnished and will tarnish with age.
The speed and degree of tarnish will depend on their environment and the patina will be that of antique silver.
The Calligraphy series is composed of single and multiple five-inch square plates displayed in the style of 19th
century specimens and housed in black wood shadow box frames. This collection will be displayed as my
personal museum of specimens collected on my daily walks. These images are my memento mori; an
acknowledgement of lives passed, a rendering of fleeting shadows.
— S. Gayle Stevens
Photo and text © S. Gayle Stevens. To see more from this series, and to learn more about the photographer, visit the website: www.sgaylestevens.com.