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See You At The Opening? Or, Saturday Morning at 9:08am

Brigitte Carnochan I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died

My stepmother has a show opening next weekend, at Themes+Projects gallery in San Francisco. I plan to be there, if anyone’s in town and thinking of stopping by, let’s say hello?

However, I’m nowhere near the first reason to attend. Brigitte, or Gitta as we call her, has a new collection that will be on display. It’s called “Emily’s Garden” – I’ll let her explain.

“My first photographs were of flowers and I suspect my last will be as well. I have been drawn to gardens and to flowers, their exotic geometry and sensuous rigor, as long as I can remember. It is a rare day that there are no fresh flowers on my breakfast table. I share these feelings with Emily Dickinson, also a devoted gardener and lover of flowers…

I have tried to capture the spirit and depth of her poetry as embodied in her floral metaphors—the poesy of her posies—by including in her own handwriting the line of a poem, inconspicuously or half hidden, on which my image is based.” (from Brigitte Carnochan Photography)

I had seen scans of these photos, on Instagram. From her brief description of the process, “The images are printed with platinum/palladium on handmade Japanese gampi paper and backed with gold leaf,”  I imagined that they’d be more of whatever they are in person. It’s very hard to photograph metals.

I was right.

She starts with photo negatives. They look like this, held up to her window on a California winter afternoon.

Brigitte Carnochan Negative Emily's Garden

Then she prints them onto gampi paper (for example, no commercial relationship), with its torn edge. So that photo above looks like this, when first printed.

Finally, she backs the print with gold leaf. Some of it will show through, some will not. As a result, in some places you’ll see metal shine, in others gold is just a color.

An image like this bird, seen at a distance,


looks more like this, up close. A fluff of down at the breast and infinite flecks of shine.

One Note From One Bird Brigitte Carnochan

These pansies are my favorite. So much drama in such, as Dickinson points out, an old-fashioned little flower. As you can imagine, this is more gold in person.

As we all are.

Here’s the invitation to her opening. Again, the galley is called Themes+Projects.


Emily’s Garden by Brigitte Carnochan

On view February 2 to March 30, 2019

Artist Reception: Saturday March 2, from 6-8pm

Themes + Projects: 1275 Minnesota Street, Suite 205, San Francisco  +1-415-732-0300


Today we are bombarded by digital imagery pretending to tell the truth. It’s a joy to step into a space where images are a craft best seen in person, where you trust the creator to take you to a heartfelt place.

Have a wonderful weekend.

43 Responses

  1. Exquisite and sublime art
    I would like to attend :-)
    Congratulations to your stepmother and a lots of joy for the weekend to you

  2. Dottoressa beat me to the only word I want to use, so I’ll just repeat what she said: Exquisite! And like our Croatian friend, I too would love to attend, to see these beautiful works in person.

  3. These images, combined with lines of poetry, are evocative and moving. I love the blend of literary and visual arts.

    Wish I were near to see them in person.

    Thank you for sharing your step-mother’s work with the larger world.

  4. Exquisite is right. What an amazing eye she has. These are so lovely. Would love to see them in person.

    Happy weekend.

  5. Hello Lisa, I love to see the background mechanics behind creativity, It adds understanding of, and respect for, both the artist and the work. Even knowing the process, the real key is originality, and that is the rare quality the artist is able to provide. Through your posts, I am growing in admiration of your stepmother’s work. Of course I won’t be able to attend this exhibit in person, but I hope that one day I will get to experience the full effect, at once so simple and so complex.

  6. Gorgeous pictures. Please let us know if she ever has a show in NY. I would love to see them in person.

  7. Oh my heart… When Themes + Projects gallery in S.F. was Modernbook in Palo Alto, I’d stop in and admire the luminous work of Brigitte Carnochan. You and I Twitter-met after that, but I didn’t make the surname connection until you at some point mentioned her work. The serendipity delights me. After seeing the beginning of your blogpost, I got so excited I went to Brigitte’s IG, and then called T + P and had a lovely conversation with a generous person named Danny who explained the name and location change. In 2014, when Modernbook had a BC show opening at their prior 49 Geary location, I stopped in to see her triptychs and meet you. You’d left for the evening, but I did meet BC and admire her work. These new pieces are gorgeous and affecting. Photography is a love of mine. I was a docent at the late, lamented Ansel Adams Center for Photography 1989-2001, arranged to volunteer in the old SFMOMA photography department, and bought photos at yearly S.F. photography auctions). As you know, I’m drawn to the use of text within art; I love what I see in these works. The gold backing moves the pieces into a magical realm. I’d love to stop into the show this Saturday, if I can make it work. So sweet what you wrote above, “As you can imagine, this is more gold in person. As we all are.” Yes. xo.

    1. @Katherine C. James, I know you had connected with Gitta’s work even before you and I met on Twitter, just like I know you like text in artworks, and roses. If you find you can come to the opening, I’ll be there early in the evening. I’d love to finally meet you.

  8. Thank you Lisa for writing this and sharing information about Brigitte’s exhibition at Themes+Projects gallery in San Francisco. Your snapshots are great visual aids to show how the process is done. Yes, in person there is a special radiance that takes place that doesn’t really translate on screen. I work at the gallery and look forward to meeting you at the reception on Saturday March 2nd. Kind regards!

  9. I wish I could be there to see these in person. I love the whole concept, and the imagery is so lovely and evocative. Visual poetry, indeed.

  10. If I were a bit closer to San Francisco, I’d be glad to come. This is such an interesting technique!

  11. these are utterly charming – and I don’t mean that in any reductive way but in its full sense of captivating and mysterious. Wish I were closer!

  12. Her work is absolutely stunning. I wish I could come to the opening. I have seen her work in LA at (I believe) Peter Fetterman Gallery years ago???

  13. Lisa–I have benefitted before from your generous endorsement and the very kind comments from your readers. That sort of generosity is rare and also inspirational. Thanks to all…

  14. Lisa, Thank you for sharing her lovely art. I wish I could go this weekend. I love photography and how she does this is wonderful. How she captured the birds- and the flowers makes them look like historic photos. Please keep sharing about her shows as I’d like to get to one sometime. I have never seen pieces like these and they are beautiful! xKim

    1. I’m glad you were attracted by the “historic” feel of these images–it has taken me a better part of a decade to figure out the appropriate medium for these photos…

  15. Brigitte Carnochan’s photographs are beyond beautiful: they pulsate with the golden intensity of Emily Dickinson’s heart and art.

    When I was taught Dickinson’s poetry in college (early 60s), she was “silver”: intense, but virginal and removed. A spinster on the upper floor of an austere New England house, looking out her window and observing, but not engaged with, Life.

    The unspoken assumption was: How could a woman not sexually penetrated by a man know anything?

    Emily Dickinson did not just “know” – she searched, she questioned, and she understood. And she wrote poetry for the ages.

    Thank you, Gitta, for expressing the “gold” in Emily Dickinson that will “stay,” whatever the vicissitudes of critics and scholars.

    And thank you, Lisa, for sharing these photographic visions with all of us.

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