Toowoomba photographer Sarah Ryan has been cultivating and refining the difficult technique of developing 3D-like imaging in her work for the past 20 years.

Sarah’s curiosity for the process, known as digital lenticular printing, began in the mid-1990s when she was studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts with First Class Honours degree at the Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania. The method of developing lenticular imagery, using available software and camera equipment, then became part of the PhD she undertook at the University of Tasmania between 1998 and 2002. “Using 3D lenticular technology creates an optical three-dimensional effect, which does not require the use of a special viewing device,” Sarah says.

“Using a similar process to that employed for novelty postcards in the 1970s, I have developed a technique capable of subtle three-dimensional effects.

For each panel, 10 separate shots are cut into vertical strips and spliced in alternating sequence.

“The image is then laminated with a lenticular lens that optically synthesises the separate views. I feel the actual blurring and the rendering slightly out of focus that the lenticular process achieves, serves to imbue the images with an uncanny unreadability.”

After completing her schooling at St Ursula’s College in Toowoomba, Sarah studied in Brisbane and Hobart. She then travelled to Paris and Berlin for art residencies before returning to Toowoomba. With her talent recognised early on, she has held solo exhibitions stretching back to 2001. The latest of these, in May, was The Seducer at the Alexandra Lawson Gallery in which, in these days of major advances in the speed of communication, she projected a message of “enjoy the moment” in her exhibition.

“For most people life moves along really quickly but I try to encourage the viewer to pause and appreciate what they are seeing,” she says.

It is also a philosophy Sarah adopts in her own life. “I don’t own a car so I walk or ride my bicycle everywhere I go,” she says. “I know I see the world more slowly than most and I really enjoy that, because as numerous great thinkers have plugged into, it is the key to having a very good existence.

“In The Seducer, I explored this serene and meditative quality, granting a moment’s pause within the rush of passing time.”

A feature of the exhibition was Bird on a Pyramid, which she took while completing a residency at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien Australia Council Studio in Berlin in 2008 and 2009. “It was a lovely morning and after having a swim I was having a coffee in a café with a friend,” Sarah says. “I always take a camera wherever I go, so I can source shots. The bird was sitting there and I saw a great image, which looks staged but it was not. The image reminds me of a really wonderful summer morning in Berlin.”


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