Edd Carr: Lepidoptera

Please note that this film contains flashing images at 12 frames per second Download transcript

Edd Carr (he/him) is an artist and founder of the Northern Sustainable Darkroom, a non-profit research facility based in Mabgate, Leeds.

Edd’s practice is material-led and focuses on adapting and innovating sustainable alternatives to photographic processes. He uses these to create animations about our relationship to ecological crisis, the mass extinction of life, and the trauma that comes as a result of living in this time of crisis.

For PANIC!, Edd presents Lepidoptera. Lepidoptera is an experimental moving image piece, telling the parallel narratives of childhood trauma and insect extinction – specifically butterflies. ‘Lepidoptera’ is an order of insects, including butterflies and moths. Using hand-printed animation, the work interweaves the life cycle of a butterfly, archival footage of the artist’s childhood, and references to the ecological and climate crisis.

Edd’s grandmother held a degree in entomology (the study of insects), and so from a young age he was taught to appreciate their beauty, alongside their importance as pollinators. Growing up in rural North Yorkshire, he was familiar with the local species, and consequently aware of the numerous threats to their existence as an adult. Drawing upon his own history of childhood trauma as a way to experience the trauma of butterfly extinction, the film is an attempt at healing through mutual understanding.

The artist hand-printed the entire film using a variety of analogue and photographic processes: around 2600 individual images in total. Incorporating elements of his home landscape, we see scenes marked by homemade charcoal from an ancient oak woodland; leaf and bark transfers from the same woodland; iron-rich soil collected from a disused mining site; rainwater collected and poured onto frames; vibrant pigments made from foraged weeds – and more.

Known for his cyanotype work, Edd has combined it with several other processes for Lepidoptera. This has resulted in a number of unique processes never before animated – including ecocyano, cyanolumen, anthocyan and cyanosoil – all as filmmaking firsts in this kaleidoscopic testament to butterflies.

The sound was commissioned specifically for this piece by Lucy Johnson, layering different piano textures and electronic sounds to echo the different print techniques used throughout the film.

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Discover the other PANIC! bursary artists

This work is presented as part of the PANIC! (Promoting an Artists’ Network in the Crisis) series of bursaries.

Earlier this year, PANIC! awarded a group of artists in Leeds City Region £5,000 and £1,000 bursaries to support the making of a new contemporary visual artwork or project. The bursaries offered space to create a voice and help us think through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions we face today.

You can find the work of artists Charlotte Cullen, Tyvin Haque, Nikta Mohammadi, ROMA, Lottie Sadd, and Mathew Wayne Parkin here.