Here’s another in the series of interviews by writer Diane Lawton, focussing on Lanzarote’s amazing artists:
I met Paolo a photographer with a difference, at the end of July 2020, at the Artisans market in Haria. It is held each Saturday 10:00-14:00.
Q: Hello Paolo, where are you from originally?
A: I am from Italy and used to live in the historic centre of Genova, before moving to Lanzarote.
Q: How did you become interested in photography and cyanotypes?
A: I started my adventures in photography as a kid with my father’s camera and ever since I have had a passion for photography
Q: How would you describe your cyanotype process; it looks very unusual?
A: Cyanotype, is a photographic process for printing, it was first created in 1842 and is among the so-called Alternative Photographic Processes. It is based on two photosensitive iron salts painted on to various surfaces, it reacts to the light of the sun and the print is subsequently developed using only water, no chemicals. The colour of cyanotype is the beautiful and poetic Prussian Blue. You can see a video of my process on my website.
Q: That is fascinating Paolo. Thanks for sharing. Do you have formal qualifications? Where did you study?
A: I followed a one-year course for geographic reportage and naturalistic photography at the Istituto Europeo di Design, in Milan.
Q: Do you have any work exhibited or on sale on the island, or can anyone can see more of your work on a website, Facebook or Instagram?
A: If you are in Lanzarote you can see my work in the artisan market of Haría every Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00 hours; (sadly for many artists and artisans the once popular Teguise Sunday market and Costa Teguise markets are currently suspended).
Q: Are you working on any particular projects at the moment?
A: I always have ideas and new projects to consider. At the moment I am planning to make very large photograms. That is, photographic prints made using objects over the photosensitive paper, instead of a negative. In this case they will be natural leaves that I can source locally in Lanzarote.
In the near future I will take portraits and print them in cyanotype, using a special natural toning, for an exhibition I have in mind.
I will be participating in an exhibition for Peace and Nonviolence in the very near future. It will be in conjunction with other artists living in Lanzarote, as soon as some details for the location are definite, I will let you know more details. This event is an extension of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence organized in Lanzarote by an artist friend who invited me to participate.
Q: How has the Spanish lockdown affected your work?
A: I stayed home for a long time without working. However, I was busy testing and finding new techniques to find a very smooth transition to highlight my classic cyanotype. It is a process that has a very short tonal scale, so it was very difficult and demanding and kept me occupied during a difficult time.
Q: Is there a general theme to your work or what themes particularly interest you?
A: I work with all-natural elements of Lanzarote, they inspire me a lot. The focus of my work in Prussian Blue is to stimulate a state of harmony in the public by connecting them with unseen beauty, not typically seen in general photography.
Q: Is your work contemporary or traditional?
A: My process to print in cyanotype, as an alternative photographer, is a mix between technological and traditional. I use negatives “corrected” (linearized) and printed digitally to adapt the density range of the image/film to the short exposure scale of the process. Then with that process complete, I print by hand in the analog form exactly as in 1842 when cyanotype was first created.
Q: What materials do you work with?
A: As an artisan I work with recycled materials such as cardboard, wood, paper, cloth, cork, glass, etc. I use my prints as a decoration. Sometimes my objects become conceptual.
Q: Thank you for this fascinating insight into your work and a very unique photographic process. It was exciting to see your images on display in Haria market, I was really entranced by your beautiful images, they would make wonderful gifts. Four of your images in particular are on my Christmas wish list! Where can people contact you or view your work?