From a quaint garden in Surrey, England, comes a seemingly endless flow of ethereal images that catalog the circuitous cycle of life and death. This is Sara Robinson’s garden, where she shoots the grand majority of her pictures on her Polaroid SX-70 camera with Impossible Project film. It might be hard to guess from the aesthetic fluency of her extensive photographic portfolio, but Robinson did not begin this way. She studied painting at art college, and only stumbled into photography through the thrill of toy cameras, like Holgas and Dianas. The dreamy textures and personal nature of instant photography next made a strong impression on her, which is obvious in her current work.
The use of instant films is satisfyingly personal for Robinson - because she can develop the photos in her own pocket, and also because she uses her own garden for her setting, shooting there year-round, capturing the varied progressions of the flowers and trees she sees every day. Her art captures the allure of fragile beauty, the wanton embrace of fleeting death, and the pensive joy of inevitable rebirth. She explains that she is caught up in the “ebbs and flows… the bloom[ing] and [fading]… the passing of time and renewals of each season.”
The content of Robinson’s images is provokingly emotional; that is because her pictures are not just about flowers. Although Robinson finds much of her inspiration in the garden, her subject is hardly horticulture: it is the effect of ephemeral beauty on an affected mind. Mingling with the leaves, tucked among the roots or branches, there is often an overt human presence, staged like the secondary flora as backdrop for the featured blossoms. Using a remote cable to include herself in almost every shot, this feature of composition makes Robinson's images even more personal, adding a depth of intimacy that could almost break out of the frame, were it not for the frequent absence of her face.
The series "Entre Chien et Loup" ("Between Dog and Wolf") retains the same enticingly ambiguous intimacy of the faceless self-portrait while focusing on a unique corner in Robinson’s garden. Shot during the mild light of dusk, the series is made languid through its pallid pallet and blurred focus, allowing the ornate structures and dappled colors of the foxgloves and dog roses to gather avid attention. The overall effect is a sense of innocent, dreamy beauty.
You can find more of Sara Robinson’s photography on her Flickr page, at https://www.flickr.com/photos/robinsplot/. You can also check out her collaborative multimedia project titled "Paths, Ghosts and other little noises from the (secret) garden" on A Tribute to Soulseekers at http://atributetosoulseekers.blogspot.co.uk/.