The latest exhibition set to open at the Drill Hall Studio celebrates the beauty and elegance of butterflies – and proves that all you need to take a beautiful photo is your phone.
Andrew Rankin and Amelia Lewis’ The Butterfly Effect will open at the gallery this Friday night and will not only feature a range of incredibly detailed photos of the animals, but serve to educate audiences on creating their own butterfly-friendly garden.
“Part of what the exhibition’s about is making information on attracting and sustaining butterflies available to everyone. People don’t realise with just a few simple steps you have your own ecosystem,”Amelia said.
“I’ve been interested in butterflies on and off for about 20 years, and Andrew and I bought a place together about three years ago which was just the perfect spot to take that to the next level with a garden. It started in my apartment though I guess – because butterflies can be attracted to a couple of small plants or a big garden, and attracting them is something available for everyone so I really want to share that.
“They’re a species – like bees or frogs – where if they are in decline, the environment’s in trouble. So if you have lots in your garden or neighbourhood, you know your environment’s healthy.”
Andrew said freshly-hatched butterflies made for the perfect photography subjects.
“When butterflies first emerge from the chrysalis, they have to pump their wings up with fluid from their abdomen and wait for them to dry out, so they stay pretty still for a few hours – there’s heaps of time to bring out lights and everything to really capture the best photograph possible,” Andrew said.
“A few years ago Amelia dragged me out of bed early in the morning as some butterflies were coming out of the chrysalis, so got me to grab the camera and that’s how I started with taking photographs of them.
“Quite a few of the photographs in the exhibition were shot on a phone – and some were shot on a camera but processed on an iPhone to make it match the others that are the same size print. On that size print, they’re hard to distinguish! I’ve had a couple of iPhone exhibitions and it’s a good thing to teach because it’s very accessible to everyone, everyone’s got one. There’s a few little tips and bits of software that can make it that much better.”
As well as animals in the wild, a section of the exhibition features still life images of butterfly skeletons with everyday objects.
“When the opportunity to have this exhibition came up, I was scratching my head because we had a lot of traditional photos of butterflies but I wanted something else. In the process of doing this, we found a lot of butterflies passed away in the garden – and then others who came out of the chrysalis and their wings were bent or they had trouble getting them in the right position so couldn’t fly, which we humanely euthanised. We have a big collection of these beautiful and beaten-up butterflies, which I thought would be amazing to arrange to photograph too, all with little stories.”
Catch the launch of The Butterfly Effect at the Drill Hall Studio this Friday night from 6:30pm, with the exhibition running until 25 July.
Andrew and Amelia will run butterfly breeding and photography workshops as part of the exhibition – for more information or to book, click here.