The Homegrown (Pandemic) Collection, 2020- (text)

During the early weeks of the first lockdown, I started growing windowsill peppers from seed, in part, an exercise in resourcefulness, but also as a way to distract myself from what was happening. This body of work grew from these distractions and has developed into a project encompassing both sculpture and photography. Inspired by NASA’s online Lunar Sample and Photo Catalog, I decided to document and record the peppers using two homemade pinhole cameras. One of these cameras has six holes in a cross-like arrangement, designed to capture each side of the pepper. My aim is to create a pepper archive, recording every pepper that fruited from my plants. A process that is still ongoing.

With my interests in astronomy and selenology and as the archive has expanded, I’ve naturally thought more and more about the complexities of extraterrestrial food production, which has informed how the work will ultimately be presented.

Recent global events have also made me think more seriously about the impact of my practice on the environment. Acknowledging my toxic footprint and the urgency of sustainability within analogue photography, has guided the decisions I have made at every stage of this work’s creation; from the organic developer brewed from the leaves and stems of the pepper plants to the use of found expired silver gelatin paper.

The American master Edward Weston famously photographed peppers during the late 1920’s. He had been experimenting with close-up ‘Still Life’ imagery, adapting his view camera to produce ever-smaller apertures. Weston was searching for complete back to front focus, in effect turning his camera into a psuedo pinhole camera. Almost 100 years later my homemade pinhole cameras are again shining a spotlight on the humble pepper.