Chloe Sells’ works begin as traditional photographs, created with her large format camera in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. They are later transformed in her London darkroom with a combination of light manipulation, spontaneous experimentation and alchemy. Sells describes her unconventional work as ‘drawings in photographs’ and a selection of these unique, technicolour, dreamlike images are brought together in the artist’s first innovative book, SWAMP.
The pictures in SWAMP take two forms. The first are fragments, or sections of larger images, created as a result of experimentation in the darkroom. The fragments highlight specific portions of a landscape or a technique Sells is refining. The second type of work are those created from 4 x 5 inch contact prints, and are interspersed throughout the fragments in the book. In these works, Sells has utilised the intimate perfection of the contact print format to consider her experiences of place. By drawing into the original image using, ink markers, pen and paint, she leaves physical marks on the surface of the photographs to echo the topographical language – the textiles, textures and patterns – of trees and plants. Each resulting unique work aims to solve the difficulty of documenting place, intensity and moment in a singular image.
Born in Aspen, Colorado, Sells graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000 with a Bachelors degree in Fine Art, and gained her Masters in Fine Art from Central St. Martins in 2011. She currently lives and works between London and Maun, Botswana. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held in New York, Paris and London.