Artist Helen McGhie has recently opened new darkroom facilities at Artwork Artelier Salford. Redeye's Jo Slack spoke to Helen this week to find out a little more about her and the facilities that are available for use.
Jo Slack (JS): Hi Helen, nice to meet you and hear about your new project. Could you tell our readers a little bit about your background?
Helen McGhie (HM): I'm an artist working with video and analogue photography, I graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2014 where I studied MA Photography and recently relocated back home to Manchester in order to rent a studio and setup Nightlight Darkroom. As my practice investigates interiority and the photographic gaze in relation to the notion of the Gothic (where 'haunted spaces' are affected by a past that disrupts the present), working with analogue photography in central to my creative process. Alongside running Nightlight Darkroom and working on my art practice, I'm also a academic tutor in photography at the University of Sunderland.
JS: Tell us about Nightlight Darkroom; what facilities are available to practitioners?
HM: We currently have facilities to print both black and white and RA4 colour (up to 20" x 24") through a Colenta 24" roll processor machine - as far as I know, public access to a colour darkroom in Greater Manchester is unique to Nightlight Darkroom. We have three tabletop enlargers available: 1x DeVere 504 (with interchangeable Dichromat colour or Cathomag b&w head) enlarger, 1x Durst M 805 Color enlarger and 1x Durst M 707 Color enlarger. It's possible to print 35mm, 120 and 5x4 negatives. It's also possible to process black and white film up to 120 and I'm currently looking for a second hand UV bed to provide access to alternative processes such as Cyanotypes.
JS: Why did you choose to set up Nightlight Darkroom?
HM: I initially decided to setup Nightlight Darkroom as I was lucky to be donated my Colenta colour processor and wanted to find it a home. There were a few colour darkrooms in London (where I was living at the time) and none that I could find in Manchester, so wanted to create a new space for photographers in the north. I feel very strongly about the quality and craft in analogue photography and want to do my bit to keep it going - I appreciate film isn't as convenient as digital, but there's a romance about it. The grain, contrast and tone are visibly different to digital in black & white and colour darkroom printing, there's also something to be said about slowing down the photographic process. With the unlimited shots possible in digital photography, we often take too many rushed photographs because we can - teaching photography has given me an insight to this, I recently heard of a student who'd taken 300 blurred photographs of the same fireplace! Ultimately, I hope local photographers will find the space useful and that beginners get excited about analogue photography through the various workshops I'm running.
About Nightlight Darkroom - pricing and practical info
Prices start from £25 for four hours of black and white printing / £30 for four hours of colour printing. Workshop prices differ depending on the process - Helen is currently offering a two day '35mm: Shoot to Print' taster workshop for £95 on 19th/26th March (will be £120 in future) and 'Pinhole photography for beginners' (of all ages) for £12 on 2nd April (will be £14 in future).
We're pleased to say Redeye members are entitled to 10% discount on Nightlight Darkroom facilities. Please quote your unique membership number on purchasing. To find out more about becoming a Redeye member visit the join page.