Ag Magazine Summer 09
By Chris Dickie (Sadly missed)
Before the world of photography had Photoshop it had Hag, but there the connection ends. While the former works its magic by computer reprocessing of picture elements, the latter works with his hands and a bank of enlargers, printing selected areas of multiple negatives onto a single sheet of black and white photographic paper, while displaying an apparently infinite imagination combined with a degree of skill that has been the envy of anyone who has ever stepped into the dim light of the darkroom. Since the 1970s Hag has worked on commission producing unique imagery for book illustration, record covers, newspaper supplements and magazines and, inevitably, posters for the likes of Athena. Each image must take an age to perfect, and can involve fragments of as many as 10 or more negatives. He is based in Cambridgeshire and teaches part-time as a lecturer at Cambridge School of Art, where one expects his young charges would never believe these images were created without assistance from Adobe, relying solely on a rare creative skill in the manual manipulation of light. How Things Are contains almost 60 of his images from 30 years between the 1970s and ‘90s, most of which were commissioned – although as he admits, “Some I have adjusted after the client had gone away” – and a section at the back of the book provides a brief commentary on the conception, creation and final use of each. Combination printing has been around for as long as the negative, which suggests it may not be around for very much longer. An inevitable part of the process is that each print created is unique, as is this book. It is a tour de force of the darkroom, the like of which I doubt you have seen before, and in all likelihood will never see again. Unless, that is, Hag decides to treat us to another retrospective at some future time.
How Things Are, by Hag, is published by K. Ostra Productions at £15, ISBN 0-9553118-0-2
80 pages, 57 plates, 24x28cm, printed in fine screen four colour Lithography.
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