WE DECIDED EARLY ON THAT ONE OF OUR AIMS WAS TO REITERATE HOW SPICES COME FROM PLANTS. It sounds obvious, but when spice jars are often hidden somewhere between tinned ravioli and baked beans in supermarket aisles, their origins are easily forgotten.
Luckily for us, the team at Studio 91 had been reading about Anna Atkins, who is often regarded as the first woman photographer. The keen botanist was one of the first to capture silhouettes of seaweeds and ferns in the mid-nineteenth century, using an early photographic process: cyanotype.
Atkins arranged the plants on chemical-coated paper, and left them in direct sunlight. Once the paper had been washed the images remained – with seaweed fronds and curls of a fern captured in a light azure against a rich Persian blue background.
Inspired, we got hold of a cyanotype kit, and started trying to make compositions using our spices. Only we realised pretty quickly why cyanotype is considered such an art form … which is how we ended up getting in touch with Angela Chalmers.
Her cyanotypes have multilayered shadows, and almost a ghostly quality. We popped some of our spices and plants in the post, and hope you’ll agree that the outcome is stunning. We love how you can pick out the cloves, star anise, cumin seeds … and, of course, the all-important roots, which unites all the spices and is the inspiration for our company name.