Artist Q&A | Jo Gane: Liquid Silver

Artist Q&A | Jo Gane: Liquid Silver

With less than a month left to go of Jo Gane: Liquid Silver, an exhibition at Compton Verney in partnership with Warwickshire Libraries and Coventry Biennial, we sat down with artist Jo Gane and Project Manager Hannah Taylor to ask them some questions about the exhibition.

Compton Verney, Jo Gane, Liquid Silver, 2023. Photographer, Jamie Woodley.

Jo Gane is an artist, educator, and lecturer who works with Victorian photographic processes; primarily daguerreotypes and cyanotypes. Based in Nuneaton and Bedworth where she grew up, she has been an artist in residence with us for 18 months.

Q: What initially drew you to working with Victorian photography/photographic processes?

J: I was always interested in the material rather than the digital side of photography. It developed from a preference for film photography and analogue film which led me to research the materials and chemical processes, eventually taking me back to early daguerreotypes and the use of silver plates and electroplating in Victorian Birmingham.

Compton Verney, Jo Gane, Liquid Silver, 2023. Photographer, Jamie Woodley.

Q: How did this exhibition come about?

H: We wanted to engage with our hyperlocal communities and draw them into co-creation with our public programme at Compton Verney. This led us to work with artist Jo Gane who is embedded in the local communities of Bedworth and Nuneaton and she has worked with them throughout her residency. We also wanted to explore themes of untold stories and access to information through the vehicle of Libraries.

Jo Gane is an interesting artist to work with because her use of Victorian rather than modern photography is far more intimate. It can take between 2-30 seconds to capture an image via these processes and since sitters are unable to hold a completely still pose for that length of time, the result is a captured moment rather than a static image.

Compton Verney, Jo Gane, Liquid Silver, 2023. Photographer, Jamie Woodley.

Q: What was your favourite moment during the creation of this exhibition?

H: My favourite part was the sound recording day with all the participants. As part of the exhibition, Jo Gane put out an open call for stories about memories of places in Nuneaton. In the end, we had 18 people take part with even more submissions. Most places that were spoken about no longer existed physically but did exist in a collective memory. I had the privilege of recording the participants talking about their stories here at Compton Verney. They spoke about their memories of places as they were having their photograph taken by Jo and you can see hints of nostalgia and memory on their faces in the final portraits.

J: Some of my favourite moments were when I was capturing portraits of residents of Nuneaton on the streets with my Victorian camera. The use of this large historic camera and the slowness of the process invited people to talk about their own histories and those histories became part of the exhibition both through audio recordings and written text you can look at in the gallery.

Jo Gane using her restored Victorian camera

Q: What 3 words would you use to describe the exhibition to a new visitor?

J: This exhibition offers a sensory, processed-based experience of photography

Q: Why should visitors come and see the exhibition?

H: The unique aesthetic of the space and the positioning of the visitor between past and present through the medium and materials of photography. From the red film over the window which transforms the entire space into a dark room, to the shadows of the moving glass portraits and original Victorian daguerreotypes, each part of the gallery refers to another and the overall impression can be quite eery but also gives the sense that we are all connected. The portraits of contemporary sitters using the same processes as portraits on display from the early 1800s bridges the gap of history which is echoed by the similar effects of silver plating on the environment as modern photography through phones and technology.

Come and explore Jo Gane: Liquid Silver before 11 February and experience a performative lecture by Jo Gane as part of our Meet the Makers weekend.