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Graduate creates insect artwork using cameraless photography

A graduate from Nottingham Trent University is capturing photographs of preserved insects without using a camera as part of her new creative business.

Vicky sitting with some of her products
Vicky-Michelle Squire
Founder of Insekt Creations

Vicky-Michelle Squire has launched Insekt Creations which sells artwork and gifts inspired by her love for entomology.

The 25-year-old uses a process known as cameraless photography to create vivid and detailed colour prints of real butterflies, beetles and bees bought online.

Also called a photogram, the process uses light to paint pictures by layering objects onto photographic paper in a dark room and exposing them to the light.

“Bugs and insects go unnoticed all the time but if you stop and look at them, you appreciate the detail of patterns and depth of colours,” said Vicky.

“All my work is designed to bring focus to and showcase the exquisite detailed patterns they naturally possess. I want to bring nature into the home and everyday life.

“There is nothing more magical than processing your own images in the dark room and I’ve found that with cameraless images you get an incredible amount of detail as it is a straight shadow of the bug with no distractions from anything else.”

Vicky, from Worksop, in Nottinghamshire, became fascinated with the work of German naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian whilst studying Photography at Nottingham Trent.

“Maria Merian was one of the first naturalists to study insects and her classification of moths and butterflies is still used today. She worked in a way that was both visually pleasing and educational, which got more people interested in the subject.”

Cicada photogram in frame
Colour photogram of a cicada

To create colour photograms, Vicky exposes the insects onto light sensitive Fuji Crystal Archive Paper which is then processed through a colour machine containing chemicals which react with the paper to give the colour it has been exposed to.

Support from The Hive – Nottingham Trent University’s centre for enterprise and entrepreneurship – helped Vicky develop her business plan and provided investment to produce new stock for her website.

“The Hive has been instrumental in teaching me how to market my products and providing me with investment to increase my stock and create a range of insect patterned scarves,” Vicky added.

The insects and bugs Vicky uses to create the photograms are bought online from a taxidermy and entomology site which ensures all items it sells are legal to import and have been obtained ethically.

Jane Brown, Enterprise Adviser at The Hive, said: “Vicky is passionate about entomology and her artwork showcases the beauty of insects and bugs that is often overlooked.

“It is brilliant to see her use this passion and skill to launch her own business with support from The Hive. Vicky’s work is unique and has caught the eye of the BBC who are using one of her photograms on DIY SOS.”

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    Nottingham Trent University was named Modern University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018. The award recognises NTU for its strong student satisfaction, quality of teaching, overall student experience and engagement with employers.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is one of the largest UK universities with nearly 28,000 students and more than 3,500 staff across four campuses, contributing £496m to the UK economy every year.

    It is one of the most environmentally-friendly universities, containing some of the country’s most inspiring and efficient award-winning buildings.

    The University is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. The University is the sixth biggest recruiter of students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the country and 95.6% of its graduates go on to employment or further education within six months of leaving.

    NTU is home to world-class research, winning The Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015 - the highest national honour for a UK university. The prize recognised pioneering projects to improve the detection of weapons and explosives in luggage, enable safer production of powdered infant formula and combat food fraud.

    With an international student population of approximately 2,600 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook and seeks to attract talented students and staff from across the world.

Graduate creates insect artwork using cameraless photography

Published on 9 November 2017
  • Subject area: Business, management and marketing
  • Category: The Hive; Press office; School of Art & Design

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