In collaboration with the Dreamland Trust, Rob Ball has received funding to undertake a photographic research project that records the current state, reconstruction and resurrection of the Dreamland Amusement Park in Margate.
Rob Ball has been working with tintypes for four years and has become increasingly interested in materiality and process, and how this contributes to the final outcome. The Dreamland project attempts to engage with the history of the amusement park and develop some form of physical connection to the space in which it stands. Each visit by Ball requires a temporary darkroom to be constructed where a tintype is coated, sensitised, exposed, developed and fixed in-situ, often resulting in artefacts from the site appearing on the plates. The entire process for each image takes approximately 15 minutes and is notoriously temperamental, being at the mercy of changing weather conditions and the fickle nature of temporary darkrooms.
The materiality of the process is key - every move from the artist leaves a trace, be it a fingerprint or scratch. Being a singular, positive, process tintypes have to be in the camera at the time they are created. Each tintype exhibited was there at that time, recording that reflected light.Tintypes as unique objects are slow to make and often described as full of miracle and disappointment.
The Dreamland project is a body of tintype work created on the site of a disused amusement park in Margate on England’s south-east coast. The tintype process, now utilised in a contemporary way, has strong links to the sea (especially in the UK) where itinerant photographers used the process to supply portraits of promenading holidaymakers in relatively quick time. Temporary darkrooms would also be constructed at fairground portrait studios, where visitors could have portraits made employing a variety of props and backdrops. Tintypes were cheap and instant and for the first time, made photography available to the working classes.
The Dreamland project will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery in London from June - August 2015.
Rob Ball's work featured on the Guardian website