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Large Format Artworks

Updated: 6 days ago

There something wonderful about a large artwork. It can completely change the feel and meaning of a space. And is nearly always a fab conversation starter.

In the past, I had the privilege of working for one of London's finest photographic galleries - working with first class photographers such as Lorenzo Agius, Terry O'Neill, Slim Aarons to Nick Veasey.

I worked with a team involved in the curation of exhibitions covering sport, culture, entertainment to some incredible creative imagery.

The Hulton Archive

People in a photographic gallery.

But underpinning this was the Getty Images owned Hulton Archive. At this time - based in Westbourne Park - the Hulton Archive was and still is the largest collection of analogue photography in the world. Holding glass plates to nitrate negatives the Hulton Archive represented one of the last remaining sites to undertake large format traditional dark room techniques as well as - perhaps uniquely today - hand retouching prints.

Hand retouching a photograph

Legend has it that the Hulton Archive story is rooted in one of protectionism.

During the second World War as glass become a scarce resource, it wasn't unusual for glass plates to be dipped in acid and the glass re-used as part of rebuilding efforts.

But Edward Hulton - a wealthy publishing gent - fearful that these images would be lost for all time started to collect, protect and catalogue these plates and negatives. With the Picture Post and various other journalistic libraries joining the fray - the archive quickly grew in size.

During my time working for the Getty Images Gallery / Hulton Archive - it was rumoured that it would take 50 full-time researchers 50 years to fully inspect and catalogue all of the negatives the archive houses.

It's no mean feat, but Getty's commitment to digitising and cataloguing (albeit mainly for commercial purposes) is an important act of preservation. Both of key stories in history, but most importantly some beautiful imagery - mostly taken on analogue film base cameras.

After much hunting around I came across this fascinating short video based on strange requests the researchers at the archive used to get from clients. Please note: for any enthusiasts hoping to visit, the archive is no longer situated in Westbourne Park and I'm not sure of it's current location.

You can find out more about the Archive and buy prints directly from the Getty Images Gallery here.


Fast forward to the digital era

Photography has always been a passion of mine. Unlike art, which has the power to represent a story, photographs represent a moment of time. A moment of honest truth.

As we fast forward to today's digital era - the analogue shooting process of the past was hard to fake, required a steady hand, and couldn't be re-shot hundreds of times like we can today. I love that there is a still a hardy group of traditionalist photographers, who wouldn't dream of picking up a digital camera, no matter the convenience it brings.

While I enjoy the 'truth' of the photography of yester-year, I also embrace the power that digital editing offers. Software developers such as Affinity and Adobe have led the way in democratising how to refine and create unique pieces of arts.

However at it's extreme, the onset of apps and AI are taking the design process to new levels - entering an era of automatic art creation with no human input - with the exception of giving language prompts. Taking us to the fringes of what the relationship between 'art' and 'artist' means.

For sure, the onset of these digital tools has been the fuel needed to give me the confidence to create a series of unique artworks - fusing my love for cats with my passion for large format artworks.


Large Format Artworks of tomorrow?

Our venture into designing artworks at Kuba & Leia, is driven by the combination of this lends on the past full of rich traditional techniques and the opportunity that modern technology offers.

Right now we're offering large format creative pieces - designed to give that 'wow' factor, but I also hope in the future I'll have the opportunity to build and offer an archival black and white library that explores and celebrates the feline form as celebrated in the world of analogue black and white photography.

Thanks for reading.


Kuba & Leia. 😻


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