Last year image-maker and SHOWstudio founder Nick Knight embarked on a project different to everything he had immersed himself in before and It centred around his garden and to be more specific, roses. Roses From My Garden is a collection of still life imagery that’s emotive as it is mystical. As the title plainly puts it, Roses From My Garden is a project that saw Nick Knight venture around his garden and observing his home-grown roses before picking them and photographing them at his home in Richmond. The series of photographs translates the language used in 17th and 18th century paintings that depict flowers and roses in general.
After a compilation of various roses had been picked from the garden, Knight then spent hours upon hours photographing the flowers as still life images, using his simple but trustworthy iPhone camera. As an image-maker whose main medium has been photography over the past couple of decades, Nick intentionally chose to shoot the flowers, in full bloom or wilting with his phone’s camera due to the accessibility it allowed him. No tripod was needed and a different angle required a swift change of movement, nothing more, nothing less – allowing Knight to get, as one would say, up close and personal with the beautiful colours and compositions that the roses had to offer.
Despite the classical Dutch painting references encapsulated in Knight’s melancholic vision of simultaneous beauty and decay, the roses appear seemingly otherworldly yet undoubtedly modern. The works also are presented as a hybrid of sort between part-painting and part-photograph. With the iPhone images touched up by a form of AI during the process, the image quality was then heightened by at least 30%, making the still life photographs contort more into paintings, belonging to the genre of hyperrealism.
Knight’s series, Roses From My Garden has been exhibited at Waddesdon Manor, Albion Barn gallery and as of next week, Dulwich Picture Gallery too. The South East London based gallery is returning from lockdown with a new exhibition called Unearthed: Photography’s Roots which aims to trace the rich history of photography through depictions of nature and different botanical settings. With over 100 works featured by 41 artists, Nick Knight’s roses will also feature as part of the exhibition alongside other key figures such as William Henry Fox Talbot and Imogen Cunningham.