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Nick Knight: Roses From My Garden
May 19, 2021 - October 31, 2021
Knight has worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen and John Galiano. The visionary photographer has directed videos for Tom Ford, Lady Gaga and Kanye West.
He now directs the camera lens at his garden in an exhibition which opens in March at the fairytale 19th century Waddesdon Manor.
Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden features a series of photographs depicting the romantic English rose in a unique way. The images were photographed using an iPhone but are presented in an entirely innovative style.
The Rose in Art
The large-scale works are in part allegorical. Rooted in the work of 16th and 17th century still life painters like Jan Van Guysum and Jan Brueghel the Elder. They are contemporary representations of the timelessness of nature.
The rose has long been beloved by artists, poets and writers as a symbol of love and passion. Some of the photographs in the series evoke William Blake’s poem, The Sick Rose, written in 1794 and exploring the nature of innocence and its destruction through the symbols of the rose and the worm.
The lifespan of a rose is fleeting but for a brief time it is magnificent in form, colour, texture and scent.
Nick Knight Flowers
Knight selected cut roses from his garden and these have been artfully arranged. Using only daylight to illuminate his subject, the digital images have been enlarged and filtered through software that uses Artificial Intelligence to infill the space between pixels. Printing on photographic paper loaded into the printer upside-down, prevents the ink being absorbed by the correct surface.
The results are textured and produce a delicate painterly quality of the petals and foliage in various life stages.
Bruised petals and broken stems are created by what looks like brush strokes from a distance. The composition and appearance is of an original colour plate from a botanical art history book. Getting up close and personal, however, reveals a surreal quality. The images are no longer photographs but digital representations of photographs created through the innovative use of cutting-edge imaging technology.
Knight says, “I am delighted that Lord Rothschild has invited me to exhibit at Waddesdon. It is not only one of the country’s finest and most beautiful estates, but with its commitment to canonical and contemporary art it seems the perfect place to show my series ‘Roses from my Garden’ which references the rich history of classical painting whilst also looking towards the exciting world of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.”
Art Imitating Life at Waddesdon Manor
The Victorian garden at Waddesdon Manor, created over four generations, is the perfect setting for Knight’s rose photographs. Roses are a particular Rothschild family favourite.
The country house was built from 1874 by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the style of a French 16th-century château. It was designed to showcase his exceptional collection of English portraits, French 18th-century furniture, Sèvres porcelain, and other decorative arts.
Nick Knight Photography
The artist’s rose photographs have rarely been seen in public previously. His first book of photographs, Skinhead, was published in 1982, winning a DandAD award in 1996. He has since produced Nicknight, a twelve year retrospective, and Flora, a series of flower pictures, both published by Schirmer Mosel.
His work has been exhibited at such international art institutions as the Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, Saatchi Gallery, the Photographers’ Gallery, Hayward Gallery and the Gagosian Gallery. In 1993, he also produced a permanent installation, Plant Power, for the Natural History Museum in London.
Knight was awarded the OBE in 2010 for his services to the arts. He is an honorary professor of the University of the Arts London and was awarded an honorary PhD by the same university.
Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden
Will be exhibited at the Coach House Gallery, the Stables at Waddesdon Manor from 19 May 2021. Although admission is free with gorunds admission, entry times will be staggered to allow for distancing. Booking in advance is essential. All visitors, including National Trust, Art Fund and RHS members must now book Grounds admission in advance due to caps on visitor numbers to avoid overcrowding. Tickets can be booked online here.
Cover image: Nick Knight Saturday 20th May, 2017 Hand-coated pigment print © Nick Knight Courtesy of the Artist and Albion Barn.
Words by Irene Caswell.