Copper and Leather bound Book

13" x 17"


Preservation is a photographic installation, the installation consists of thirteen large photographic self-portraits, which have been treated with iron filings and water to create scarring and encrustations of rust on their surfaces. This has left some of the images barely readable as portraits. The photographs are suspended between floor and ceiling on wire ropes.


A complementary series of thirteen smaller photographs are bound into a copper and leather book, which is placed within the installation for handling by the viewer. These photographs have been treated similarly with rust, which comes off onto the hands of the reader. The warmth and intimacy of the book contrasts with the brittle, fragile and distancing quality of the larger photographs.


At the heart of the piece is a concern with silence and pain. The images illustrate a process of scarring and decay, of loss of recognition and the irrevocable nature of damage.


Preservation was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford, England (MOMA).

Rusted self-portrait photographs held between sheets of tempered glass, suspended between floor and ceiling with wire ropes and yachting fittings


Handmade book

3mm sheets of copper with leather binding book

13" x 17"

A voice punched through

The imagery from the 'Sea Room' and 'Dreams of Reality, Reality of Dreams', a beat up vehicle of transport no longer functioning combined with the corrosive power of the sea naturally progressed into Preservation. Self-portraits in darkness and light, portraits in a sway of disappearance or emergence suspended in decay.


From within darkness random words punch through, words pounded to be heard from a silence, which deafens, pages encrusted with rust show similarities to encrusted blood already bled. Pages of iron enclosed within the natural protective properties of copper. A cover to be tarnished by a readers hands, their fingerprints leaving behind having made their mark on polished copper.

Preservation Copper Book open cover

13" x 17"

Iron filings (iron powder) and copper bronze

Photographic self-portrait decayed with rust. On the right a closer detail of the channels left behind by the water as it flowed through the particles of iron filings.

Creating Decay

To discover a way to use rust as a medium in my artwork I need the knowledge of the chemistry professor Chris Cooksey at the University College London. The challenge was to create decay enough to damage my artworks but, at the same time have enough control to suspend it at any given point. I needed to stop decay from damaging the artworks further if they were to survive the test of time. It was with the use of copper and the magic of magnetism, preservation was possible.

Rusted self-portrait photograph

Punched Text`

Rusted self-portrait photograph with words punched from behind

Detail of punched text on portrait

Punched text on the back of self-portrait photograph

The punches used.

Page |1 of 2|


© Denise Evans. 2017