Photographic Sculptures 2019

by Bolade Banjo

Growing up in London for most of my childhood, imagery (from family archives, advertising and documentation of various social groups outside of our own society) are some of the biggest communicative tools for myself and others, through which our navigation and experience of the wider world was, and is, determined. 'Untitled (Photographic Sculptures 2019)' is an ongoing series of sculptures I've been developing and conceptualising within the last year and a half, my exploration into the medium derived from an interest in form and perception.

This sculpture series is also an exploration born of a dissatisfaction with photography and its perception within art spaces specifically. How it's shown, its scale and placement, for example, has become formulaic, and these parameters I feel can sometimes limit how an audience understands a body of work. 


Within the series two layers of understanding are present;

The Darkroom Paintings - Over the last 3 years I've grown to understand the darkroom process for myself, the importance of light density and creating something without the traditional use of a photo negative. This experimentation has allowed me to further understand colour and to follow in the footsteps of some of my influences, such as Frank Bowling and David Reed. Inspired by Bowling’s use of the painting medium to relay important moments in his life as journal entries and Reed’s use of layered singular brush strokes to add a richness and density to his images.

The ever changing landscape of music has also been an influence on the concept of these paintings, using colour and light as a primary tool rather than a secondary one and being able to create something within a void of light, for me, is reminiscent of the ideas and freedom of experimentation music has to offer. The undefinable sound created by and for those having to go without as a means of expression has evolved and continued to defy. The removal of light and the negative links back into those formative ideas that allow for a new means of image making outside of the traditional sense, in this sense experimentation is always present. The breakdown of the old allows for a new tool that can bridge new channels of communication.

Due to a lack of sight, no two prints will ever be the same and the removal of this key aspect of the traditional photographic process gives way to instinct and emotive response.



Once a number of paintings had been created, in response to life events good and bad, my environment, music and notably, in reaction to conversations with a friend and fellow artist Jasper Marsalis around the creation of the album 'A Quiet Farewell 2016 - 2018.', I began to explore how I’d want to present these works. Research drew me to the work of Paul Neagu and Andy Goldsworthy, each whom created a series of works out of a reaction or a 'lack of’, looking intentionally to involve the audience as participants of the work instead of only passive viewers. This lead me to combine photography and sculpture, finding a new medium of interaction beyond observation.   

The resin transforms these darkroom paintings to become more than just images, the form used allows for the audience to interact with the painting that is no longer defined by placement and their perceptions can change as they move around the piece or hold it. The use of the shapes, square, circle, and triangle, is connected to the shapes we as children are introduced to, the building blocks of creation. I saw this as a good way to start my exploration into sculpture... with baby steps.

 Experimentation runs throughout the series; from creating the painting, making the cast, determining placement, through to the use of resin. Its a material with which I have not much experience with but the more I use, the more I begin to understand its delicate nature, how reactive it can be if not handled with care, but also how beautiful the outcome can be if approached with patience, mirroring the darkroom experience I’ve come to know and love.


The amalgamation of all of these elements has enabled me to bring to life a period  I would have kept in a box on a shelf, giving that narrative of trauma, happiness, love, and community a gravity that would otherwise be buried away and hardly seen again.