New exhibition at Waddesdon Manor finds new beauty in roses

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A new photography exhibition at Waddesdon Manor based around the rose flower has been described as being 'at the cutting edge of imaging technology.'

Nick Knight, who in his varied career has previously directed music videos for the likes of Lady Gaga and Kanye West, was inspired by his fascination with nature in general, and more specifically with the rose as an enduring symbol of beauty.

The series, titled 'Roses from my Garden', has roots in the work of 16th and 17th century still life painters like Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Huysum, but these large-scale works could not be more contemporary, dramatising the timelessness of nature.

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Nick Knight cuts selected roses straight from his garden and arranges them using only daylight to illuminate his subject. Photographed on an iPhone, the digital images are then enlarged and filtered through software that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to infill the space between pixels, calling to attention the painterly qualities of the blossoms themselves.

From Nick Knight's series 'Roses from my Garden'From Nick Knight's series 'Roses from my Garden'
From Nick Knight's series 'Roses from my Garden'

The resulting images are no longer photographs, but rather, digital representations of photographs.

They are presented in Waddesdon's Victorian garden, created by four generations of Rothschilds who themselves were passionate about the rose.

Nick Knight says:

“I am delighted that Lord Rothschild has invited me to exhibit at Waddesdon. It is not only one of the country’s finest and most beautiful estates, but with its commitment to canonical and contemporary art it seems the perfect place to show my series ‘Roses from my Garden’ which references the rich history of classical painting whilst also looking towards the exciting world of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.”

Pippa Shirley from Waddeson Manor says:

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“We are immensely excited to be exhibiting this series of photographs by Nick Knight, which not only capture the intense, dream-like, evanescent beauty of a flower which is found in countless gardens, but also challenge our assumptions of familiarity. These are so much more than photographs of roses. They are made using digital technology at the cutting edge, made painterly through the way Knight uniquely manipulates the physical media. Their scale is overwhelming. They are not what they appear to be, and so they demand us to look closely, and think about what we are looking at.”