Working in late 1970’s in New York as Ralph Gibson’s assistant and also assisting Mary Ellen Mark and Robert Mapplethorpe, Deborah Baker’s work now resides much closer to home.
Splitting the Trees (2018 onwards) evolved from Deborah’s previous series In Paradiso and Moor Visible. The series has grown from combining visual ideas in both wild landscape and domestic cultivation, especially concerning the effects of the vagaries in the climate, the hot summer and the shift in the seasons.
Her ongoing series In Paradiso has developed alongside the planting of her woodland garden, which Baker designed and established over the last eight years. Many of the plants are rare and unusual. She continually photographs the area to capture the metamorphosis of their growth and development in the garden.
Challenging the common clichéd representations of plants Baker’s photographs are beautiful, richly coloured, sensuous, and otherworldly. Each image captures the varied conditions of light, time of day to depict the season and cycle of growth and decay.
Botanically, in showing distinct characteristics of many varied species at different seasonal stages, and indicating plant identity and classification Baker gives each image a hybrid title created from fragments of the names of the actual plants photographed, which are recognisable and purposely disordered in their representation.
Within the final processes of the image development is the use and regeneration of a number of photographs. Employing image-editing software, particularly techniques of montage and layering are exploited to increase perception of space within the image, and create complexity with intense visual resonance.
The works emphasise and take advantage of the methods of process and editing unique to digital photographic imagery and also parallels the degradation of the image in analogue photographic processes such as daguerreotypes or glass plate negatives.