top of page




For BLOOM, I experimented with the rather poetic photography process of the anthotype.  The anthotype process, from the Greek ‘anthos’ (flower) and ‘typos’ (imprint), is similar to the cyanotype, but instead of using a solution of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate, sensitive to the blue portion of the solar spectrum spilling into ultraviolet, it trades the laboratory for the garden. Using the same photosensitive pigment compounds involved in how leaves change colour, to create an anthotype, a flat object or photo positive is placed on paper coated with an emulsion made of plant extracts — crushed petals, tinctures of roots — and then exposed to direct sunlight for a long period: days, weeks, even months, depending on the plant, season, and intensity of the light. Eventually, the sun bleaches out the parts of the paper not covered, leaving an imprint of the photopositive object in the colour of the pigment used in the coating — a ghostly beauty with the chromatic quality of a watercolour and the delicacy of a poem. Dyes of different colours can be obtained depending on which plant or flower is used.

I create anthotypes of unidentified Victorian women of colour from rare cartes de visite which I collect myself or find in European photo archives. These sitters had their portraits taken in 19th Century photo studios throughout Europe. With my 14-year-old daughter of dual African/European heritage, I forage wild flowers throughout Europe and adorn the unknown Victorian sitters with flowers, bringing them to the surface and into the sunlight. I use flowers for my anthotypes which not just give off pigments but also encode thoughtful messages relating to our shared history, remembrance and permanence. With this tribute I challenge the European perspective on remembrance and memory.

I embrace the fragile, poignant impermanence of these works; just like photographs, the anthotypes will eventually fade over time. My anthotypes are visual metaphors regarding memory, ephemerality and loss. 

(preview below)

Anthotype Sarah Forbes Bonetta_2023
Anthotype Sarah Forbes Bonetta
Anthotypes made from Dahlias & Cosmos Flowers 
bottom of page