Portfolio: Chloe Sells

A matter of life and death

Robert Epstein
Thursday 20 June 2013 16:55
Comments

The town of Maun in north-western Botswana lies just south of the Okavango Delta. A vast inland body of water planted in the even vaster Kalahari, it teems with life – but the heat and humidity of the savannah also accelerate the cycle of growth towards decay and death.

It is a cycle prominent in the work of Chloe Sells. Born in Colorado, the photographer settled in Botswana with her South African husband 12 years ago, and her new project, Senescence, uses the traditional form of the still-life to explore her personal experiences of the country.

Though she shoots in colour, Sells spends 45 minutes in the darkroom with each picture, manipulating shades of cyan, magenta and yellow light to create unique, unreplicable images – reflecting her wish to capture the transience of nature.

In "Delicious Monster with Juju Hat", for example, we see her favourite plant, Monstera deliciosa, native to the rainforests of Mexico, which now resides in her own garden. The hat, meanwhile, is one worn to traditional ceremonies in Cameroon; made of feathers, it represents notions of prosperity and goodwill – though here, with the Monstera, it also speaks of the exotic come to Botswana, making us question our ideas of the indigenous and our assumptions of Africa.

"Olympia", meanwhile, makes us question where bananas themselves come from – Sells has recently become a banana farmer, but how many of us think about their origins as the fruit of a plant?

And "Only After" is a Miss Havisham feast of a shot, combining apples, grapes, spilt wine and a turquoise woodland kingfisher Sells found dead in her garden, alongside an army of ants dining on the scene, reflecting the speed with which organic material shrivels and is destroyed in her new homeland.

Senescence is showing at the Michael Hoppen Contemporary gallery, London SW3, to 31 August

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in