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2019 Group Show – Beth Moon Interview: The Savage Garden

photo-eye Gallery 2019 Group Show
Beth Moon Interview:
The Savage Garden
Gallery Associate Juliane Worthington interviews represented artist Beth Moon about her series The Savage Garden. Prints from The Savage Garden are currently on view in our 2019 Group Show.

Prints from Beth Moon's The Savage Garden installed at photo-eye Gallery for the 2019 Group Show.
When I got hired at photo-eye Gallery, I knew I’d be surrounded by photographic inspiration on a daily basis, what I wasn’t prepared for was how much personal inspiration I’d find talking with the artists we represent. From my first day on the job, Beth Moon has been a source of mystical connection for me. Her deep love of trees, and the calling she feels to document them in such profound ways, struck a cord in my heart immediately. Having the chance to talk with her about her work and why she does what she does, left me feeling hopeful and encouraged as an artist, a mother, and a human being. I hope you enjoy this heartfelt interview with Beth on her body of work The Savage Garden, a study of carnivorous plants. Six works from The Savage Garden are currently on view in our 2019 Group Show.

Beth Moon, Nepenthes Bicalcarata 
Platinum/Palladium Print, 
12x8" Image, Edition of 15, $1200
Juliane Worthington:     What inspired you to work with carnivorous plants?

Beth Moon:     I was living in California at the time, and about an hour’s drive away from my house I found a nursery—my son had this mad interest in carnivorous plants—which was huge! They had so many types from all over the world; they had a special room they kept at Amazonian temperatures for some of the more exotic species--that was just my beginning of learning about these plants. I found them fascinating, with all their intricate cups and pitchers and ways of trapping their prey. The owner of the nursery allowed me to take certain plants home.

JW:     The way you’ve processed the photo is very complimentary to the subject—could you talk about how you made these images? 

BM:     Thank you! Yes, I think anytime you can take the background away, you can really focus on the subject. I made a make-shift studio space in front of a large window (the plants need a lot of natural light). I draped linen behind them, with the natural light coming in, and spent hours with them, with my macro lens, in various stages of light.

JW:     The platinum and palladium process you’re so well known for is not something that’s commonly used anymore. Could you share some of the steps involved in developing these photos? 

BM:     Sure—it’s captured in camera, scanned, and then a digital negative is made. Paper is really important to me! I use 100% cotton watercolor paper which has been made in the same mill in France for the last 400 years. I have equipment set up in my garage (you don’t need a completely dark room like you do in silver printing—there’s a lot of ambient light). I brush onto the paper a liquid combination of platinum and palladium metals and let the paper dry. And then I have this huge 5000-watt bulb housed in this contraption with a vacuum frame that keeps the negative on top of the paper very tight. I expose the paper and then I run it through a number of trays of washing out the residuals, and let it dry!

JW:     I love your work with ancient trees, and am finding equal fascination with this series on carnivorous plants. What is it about nature that inspires you to take the time and energy to document it so passionately?

BM:     I think you put your finger on it, I just find so many aspects of nature so intriguing and interesting. Usually, I approach these subjects wanting to learn more about them. I think for me personally, photography is a great way to learn and explore. By the time I’m done with a series, which usually takes a couple of years, I’ve lived with that subject long enough I feel like I know it inside and out. The trees, the carnivorous plants are all an extension of my love of nature. The ravens even—you look a bird and just have to wonder, “What is this process? What does it mean to be a bird?” It’s got to be something that really grabs me in order to put that much time and energy in.

JW:     I think you’re really good at communicating your humble appreciation of everything you photograph. The time you spend with your subjects really comes through in your work. It’s clear these are not random captures, but that you’ve really seen each individual life. Thank you for sharing.

Beth Moon, Nepenthes Albomarginata
 Platinum/Palladium Print, 7.5x5" Image
Edition of 9, $900

2019 Group Show
For more information, and to purchase prints, 
please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or
All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.