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Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, North Yorkshire Bradford-born photographer Liza Dracup was invited to explore Mercer Art Gallery's archive and respond to its holdings. The large collect ion of Victorian photography caught her eye, as the prints hold history that is of great inspiration to her. She says: 'The print is so important to me as a photographer and as a means of communication, description and visualisation, as so much dissemination of the medium is now through digital means. By working with the collect ion I could examine the physical print and consider its information.'
Focusing on locations that fell within a 35km radius of Harrogate, Dracup ended up with photographs that belonged to three categories: botanical specimens, isolated features of the landscape and stereoscopic images of local views. Finding a commonality in the edited set (something she calls 'the feeling of the ordinary landscape'), Dracup used these historical pictures as inspiration for her new work: 'My interest s were in carrying on this tradition of close observation and description, so I worked exclusively with the archival pigment print process -- this process extenuated detail and extended the descriptive possibilities of the photographic print.'
Dracup's intriguing body of work is not just about her response to an archive, but also explores the timeless nature of the beauty of the landscape and our react ion to it: 'The Mercer's commission gave me the opportunity to make a contemporary contribution to the cultural photographic legacy in the visualisation of the landscape and natural history of northern England.'