> Blossfeldt’s Apprentice

Elaine Duigenan / Blossfeldt’s Apprentice



Elaine’s specimens are handmade from twist ties.

“My study happened whilst working on a Wellcome Collection project about Outsider Art. I was inspired by the work of Shota Katsube who makes ingenious small scale figures out of twist ties.

This humble material bends, twists and connects to itself. My own structures were organic in form, emerging like pumpkin tendrils or the compactness of thistle.

I recalled Karl Blossfeldt’s iconic photographs of plant forms – works that are beautiful and resonant – an overnight sensation when first shown in 1928. Blossfeldt (1865-1932) wanted to encourage his students to pay attention. His camera was homemade and allowed magnification of 30x. A key idea was that Nature is the ultimate creative genius and human creations cannot help but refer to its designs and always fall short.

I pored over his images and selected specimens to make (just like his students did with clay). I had become a maker, Blossfeldt’s apprentice – twisting, tying and bending the material to my will. I soon realized the arrogance of trying to re-create or imitate nature. My specimens taunted me with their flaws but slowly realised that this was the point of the work – to show the joins, the loose threads and embrace the imperfection.” – E.D.


About the artist

Elaine Duigenan is a photographic artist based in London. She has exhibited internationally and has work in collections that include the V&A and The Museum of Fine Art in Houston. Her work is represented by Klompching Gallery in New York. Alongside making her own series of work for exhibition, she undertakes artist residencies and works alongside institutions such as Wellcome Collection to devise and deliver special projects. In late 2009 one of her images was flown to The international Space Station on Shuttle Atlantis.

Elaine’s work takes a close look at objects. Things are never quite what they seem and her work is pared down to find singular beauty. Pale specimens glow in inky black spaces and appear to hang by a thread. There is strength and fragility, perfection and imperfection. Her work teases the viewer as images hover somewhere between quirkiness and elegance.