Nick Knight's new still life exhibition Roses from my Garden opens this weekend at Waddesdon Manor, in partnership with Albion Barn and Michael Hue-Williams. The Rothschild Foundation owned house re-opens to the public with the show taking place in the Coach House Gallery, and visitors are required to pre-book a slot to ensure social distancing is maintained. The first ever Roses merchandise will also be available, which includes greeting cards, jigsaws and postcards.
Devoted to the rose, having photographed them since 1993 and starting the Roses series 7 years ago, Nick Knight's new exhibition is the result of a lengthy, intimate process which has led the image-maker to rediscover the pleasure of making images. The Roses capture the brief life and decay of the flower, and instilled with a melancholic beauty, look to the tradition of 17th and 18th century Dutch and Flemish still life painting in a fundamentally modern way.
Curated from the ongoing series of roses, with co-ordination by SHOWstudio's Bex Cassie, the new exhibition is comprised of 17 images, with 9 previously unseen works including a triptych. For each image, Knight picks and arranges roses from his personal garden, then photographs them in natural light using an iPhone. As well as editing and posting them via Instagram, Knight's retoucher Mark Boyle proceeds to put the photograph through software using artificial intelligence. Infilling the space between the pixels, the images are manipulated to emphasise the painterly qualities of the flowers themselves and become digital representations of the original photographs. Blown up and printed to between 6 and 8 foot in scale, Knight then goes over the prints with a chinagraph pencil to make further edits, working on sharpening the edges of the image. The final works sit in a new space between painting and photography, presenting an innovative new language for image making. A film by Britt Lloyd, to launch on SHOWstudio this Saturday 4 July, reveals the entire process.
The garden and the rose are fundamental parts of Waddesdon's DNA, marrying it well as a location for Knight's works. Built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the late 19th century, the Victorian gardens were created in 1874, and the Baron's passion for horticulture has continued through his family's generations. His sister Alice inherited the manor in 1898, with roses taking a starring role in her landscaping designs. Surrounding the manor as it stands today, the Parterre garden alone is planted with new designs twice a year from over 11,000 plants. Waddesdon is also home to an art collection which takes a similar approach to Knight's, merging modernism and tradition, with the rose appearing in 17th century Dutch still life paintings and 18th century Sèvres porcelain.
Roses from my Garden runs 4 July -25 October 2020.