Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Friend John Dugdale

Never forget who you are

We would like to take this opportunity to share with you the amazing accomplishments of our Friend John Dugdale and the School of Photography he is currently building.

John is offering many of his favorite works at half of their Regular Price in order to fund this amazing Project. What an opportunity you have to be a part of this Journey!


John Dugdale has achieved an international reputation as an artist who produces wonderfully intimate photographs. What's most remarkable about this fact is that he has done so in spite of severe medical conditions which could have ended his career. Widely regarded as a prominent commercial photographer, Dugdale turned his attention to his fine art after he lost his eyesight in 1993 to CMV retinitis, an AIDS related illness. Once sought after by such renown clients as Bergdorf Goodman and Ralph Lauren, Dugdale found himself alone, gaining strength from friends and family who never left his side. Completely blind in his right eye, Dugdale found himself seeing with less than twenty percent visibility in his left eye. While blindness ended his commercial career, he found himself free to explore his fine art, using friends and family members as studio assistants. Using an 8 x 10" camera, Dugdale created ways of setting up a photograph, relying on others to focus the camera. Working with the blue and white hues of the cyanotype, a process developed in 1841 which uses the sun to expose the sensitized paper, Dugdale found a way to avoid the darkroom and the harsh chemicals he can no longer endure and still create sensitive, affecting images. The results of his persistence are images which are both poignant and delicate, contemplative yet quietly potent. Dugdale relies on his memory to compose still lives, nudes and self-portraits which resonate with sadness, beauty, death and the joy of life. As he said in a 1998 interview, "The mind is the essence of your sight. It's really the mind that sees." Through Dugdale's images we are reminded of the works of Thomas Eakins, Julia Margaret Cameron and F. Holland Day. These historical references fuel the work with meaning that is both familiar yet unassuming. Whether it's an arm resting on a Victorian chaise, a man curled in the entryway of a cemetery, a vase reflecting sunlight on a mantel, or a display of tulips drooping onto a counter, Dugdale invites us into a sightless world where beauty exists and memories thrive. Through his work we understand the power of sight,
both real and remembered.

Empire Chair in the Gloaming

“The quietude that people respond to in my pictures is, in part, because of the way the pictures are made: no flash; no harsh electric light; not even the sound of the shutter—just a lens cap removed, and then gently replaced. This encounter provides, for me, a metaphor for looking.” -John Dugdale

This is a letter we recieved from John and we would like to share it with you.

Dear Friends,

This has been one of the most amazing summers of my life. As many of you know, my sight has been diminishing for some time now. It is down to about as minimal as it can get, and there is great hope right around the corner with stem cell research to restore at least some of my sight. What has not diminished for even a moment over the past 20 years is my love of photography.

During a quiet moment last year I looked around my farm in Stone Ridge and wondered what I would do with this beautiful place in a state of near blindness. What amounted to an opening in the universe became a thought in my mind, and The John Dugdale School of 19th c. Photography and Aesthetics was born. Every time I walk around the corner to the 50 foot long 18th century style newly built school house, I get a pang of joy in my heart that is indescribable. The classes will offer a bold departure from typical photography programs. It is my desire that students become immersed in the stillness of the past, relieved from the distractions of cell phones, computers, and the digital world. For two and a half days we will work in a wooden schoolhouse designed for this purpose, flooded with natural light, creating photographs with large format turn-of-the-century view cameras.

The real joy comes from knowing that the school was built over the summer with one print sale at a time. I have chosen for this purpose 24 of my favorite photographs printed on 16x20" golden toned silver gelatin paper, in a limited edition of 6. As we race ahead at the beginning of February, I have raised enough money for the building to sail comfortably into the winter; doors and locks, a finished chimney, and windows are in place!

The inaugural workshop will be at the beginning of May, and is covering one of my most beloved subjects in the world, spring flowers. Classes are already beginning to be booked.

There are still so many things to be done to the interior, plastering, paint, floorboards, paneling, staircase to the library, etc. I intend to have this beautiful building completed when I open the doors to the school in May. In order to achieve this goal, I am offering these 24 prints for sale at half their normal price, $2000 each. The same way that the money magically appeared for the structure of the school house, I am hoping the same will appear for the interior. It is my hearts desire to continue my journey in photography by surrounding myself with eager students of every age. I look forward to you joining me in the excitement and energy surrounding the school

Here are some of the images from the 24 pieces he is offering and the contact info on how to purchase them.

The John Dugdale School Collection

16x20” Golden Toned Silver Gelatin Prints
Limited edition of 6
All Print sales help support the building of the school, in preparation for classes beginning this May.
For inquires on prints please call 845.687.1840 or Email:

Mourning Tulips

The fruit of Orchards

Iannis with focusing cloth

Pink lustre tea

In the shadow of his beloved

Life's evening hour

The Artist's Mother

He who awakens

Houston Magnolia

We are ever in awe of you and your talents, John!

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