Blueprints for Arbroath is a multi location display of cyanotype textile art works by Jeni Reid that will be sited around Arbroath town in public spaces for July.
Jeni Reid is a Friockheim based visual artist who works in the mediums of digital photography, cyanotype and textiles. She is the descendant of relatives who worked in the production of linen in Angus and has been researching the links between linen and slavery.
It was in Arbroath around 1738 that the very first Scottish Osnaburg was made, this is the coarse linen cloth that was exported to the West Indies to clothe enslaved people. Jeni represents the many stories and layers of history that connect these places in her work, using images of current day Arbroath and 19th Century prints of the Caribbean reproduced images with the permission of The British Library to create digital negatives. The negatives are printed onto large pieces of linen cloth using a technique called cyanotype which is one of the oldest forms of photographic printing.
Cyanotypes are made by coating paper or fabric with a chemical solution. A negative is placed on top and the print is exposed to ultra-violet light either in the form of sunlight or UV lights. The finished image is a beautiful cyan blue and the technique was often used to create detailed drawings and technical plans; it is from the cyanotype process that the concept of blueprints gets its name.
Jeni’s Blueprints For Arbroath will be hung in public places in the town with the hope that they will open up conversations about our local industrial history and the histories we share with the people of the Caribbean.
The work exposes hidden histories and opens up conversation about this rarely talked about layer of community heritage to value and understand the area’s role in the transatlantic trade and the links to the West Indies.