John Blakemore. Tulipomania
The Hyman Collection includes a broad cross-section of John Blakemore's incredible multi-year exploration of the tulip, from the simplicity of his early pared down still lifes to the increasing complexity of his later tulipomania pictures, a journey from serenity to obsession.
Blakemore has explained:
"The Tulip Work, as with much of my work, began fortuitously. Working with still life, after my landscape work had come to an end, I reached a point of stasis in my practice and was uncertain of my direction and the sorts of photographs that I might take.
I commenced a post graduate course in Film Studios enabling me to resolve issues around critical theory which I had found personally oppressive. The frequent production of essays generated a need for displacement in order to escape the tyranny of the blank page. I began to photograph the space in which I wrote. The 'Tulip Kitchen Series' was born.
Working in 35mm with a Leica M2 and a Nikkormat and using available light I explored the space of the kitchen, always including tulips which became a constant presence. I had no idea then that I would continue photographing the tulip for twenty years to produce the body of work it became.
Imagine a dilemma. The tulip is a seasonal flower in plentiful supply from early spring to summer and is then no longer available.
By the spring of 1988 I was deeply immersed in my tulip photography and had no intention of stopping in mid-June. I began to dry flowers, in vases or lying flat. The complexity of the curved flowers, leaves and stems became a new fascination.
In September 1988 I made the first constructed still life working with a 5x4 camera.
Much of the tulip work was an exploration of picture making. The tulip was a necessary presence within an exploration of the photographic space. I did, however, become enamoured with the tulip and the 'celebrations' series become more precisely about the tulip, it's gestural elegance and the sensuality of the flowers."