Some call him a mixologist and others refer to him as an alchemist, but Simon Bowman Jnr. sees himself simply as a photographer.
He gave the explanation for that description of himself on June 17 during a discussion of his works at the exhibition titled ‘Music To My Eyes’ at the Nubuke Foundation in Accra.
Twenty-two pieces of his unique approach to photography that entails immersing rolls of 35mm film into ‘chemicals’ produced from tropical fruits are currently on show at Nubuke.
The official opening day attracted a fairly good number of art followers keen to get a better handle on his peculiar way of generating results in a photographic darkroom.
In a genial conversation with Odile Tevie, Director of Nubuke Foundation, that also made room for questions and comments from those present, Bowman Jnr. explained that he works in the analogue mode of mixing ‘chemicals’ to interact with his film rolls while carefully manipulating the temperature, exposure time and other parameters of the process.
“It’s not like I just drop films in a solution and then stand back to observe the outcome. I have control over the activity,” Bowman Jnr said. “So if I want to add some pineapple juice, for instance, I must decide its quantity, warmth, how long it must be in the solution and when to end the process.”
The process leading to him exhibiting his stuff at Nubuke started about seven months ago when he was selected into the arts institution’s Young Ghanaian Artist (YGA) programme that helps artists sharpen their methods, concepts and the eventual paths they wish to take.
According to the Nubuke Director, her outfit initially tried not to settle on photography this time around because they didn’t feel they had the capacity to go through a seven-month programme with a photographer.
“We went round in circles for a while and then we had to get someone on board to help us understand the different nuances of photography. It eventually became apparent that we had to select Simon. So it’s been quite a journey for our team as well as for him. We are extremely proud of the resultant work,” the Nubuke Director pointed out.
Bowman Jnr. also felt proud as he showed guests around his works which had been hanged on pegs, the same way negatives are hanged in photographic darkrooms. Music composed by him and a friend played in the background.
Some of the works were untitled while others had striking titles such as ‘Lizzy My Lover’, ‘Feels’, ‘Gaze Goes Vacant’, ’ Way Home’, ‘Here I Am’ and ‘Butterflies in My Belly.’
If Bowman Jnr. actually had butterflies in his belly at the ‘Music To My Eyes’ opening, it could be due to the presence of older or relatively more experienced artists like Seth Clottey, Obodai Provencal, Akoi Jackson, Theresa Ankomah, Ato Annan and Kezia Owusu-Ankomah who were all there to support a colleague.
When the conversation with the Nubuke Director touched on what next for him in terms of his art, Bowman Jnr. stated that he had more photographic experiments ahead to conduct and also more music to make.
It was, on the whole, a jolly afternoon of chit chat about art and creativity. There were tasty finger foods to nibble on and local drinks to sip for all present, with the atmosphere enlivened even more by music from the Bem Band.
The ‘Music To My Eyes’ exhibition at Nubuke Foundation ends on August 26.