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Beverly Joubert

Dear Andreas, There has been some activity lately. A small flurry of excitement in the halls for the National Geographic Society, at its Explorer’s Hall. The Joubert, Big Cat Exhibition opened this month to consistent and growing positive reviews like a wonderful wave of appreciation. That appreciation is not only for Beverly’s fine images, or only of the eyes of the big cats that stare back at you, but for the overall package. So it deserves some explanation of exactly what that package is, for anyone who may want to read this. It has also set me considering the fine line between art and what is not considered art. It began with a visit to Silverton’s offices in South Africa, where old friend and associate Andreas, took a long had look at a selection of images in his usual laconic way, nodding quietly, framing with two set squares, reaching over to finger some paper samples and consulting with Andreas. Then at last a pronouncement that you don’t even ask for from a regular printer or setter, ’these are good!’ So as a first level of service at Silverton you get an opinion, an honest one at that. Beverly’s eyebrows climbed up her forehead a notch when that announcement included a ’This one lets the portfolio down a little in my opinion…’ but while that image stayed a round or two longer I notice it did not make it into her final selection! Next is a meticulous series of tests on different papers to determine the way the light falls over the image and if the slicker Textured Fine Art brings the deep colours out too much or whether the more absorbent Fabriano takes that edge off and leaves a rounded colour palette. Back and forth, test, select, test again, blow up, less gamma, more density, more luminance… Once we got a call from Andreas saying that some unique combination of papers and colour gave up a look that none of us expected but…’you know I like it!’ We went in and looked down at a print that took our breath away. In any other shop, this would not have been printed. It would not have passed that first 5 x 7 test, and we would never have had a call to come and see a full sized experiment. This only happens because Silverton becomes your partner, a creative partner if you allow it. If you want a full colour glossy print, you really want to go somewhere else, I get the impression that kind of printing turns their stomachs.   The work is an interesting blend between precise detail and artistic collaboration, which if you think about it, is a realm very few succeed in. You are either precise and detailed as a personality, or creative, by stereotype, but Silverton defies stereotypes, or stereos in general it seems. I see a vinyl record player in the lab, which should be un-noteworthy, but it is in a way indicative of what Silverton is about. It is, as a company, an association of individuals, a specialist in a hand made ethic that was more prevalent in the days of those vinyl records even though they were plastic and mass produced. They were gritty and had a texture in a way that seems more honest than merely recreating reality, in the same way as Silverton looks at photography; an art form beyond the easy route, beyond that simply recreation of reality in a snapshot. This journey  has to be hard, filled with experimentation and some mistakes, because somehow I believe that all of those steps walk with you like silent and invisible warriors in this fight against mediocrity. Silverton is an enemy of mediocre.  Thank you all, Dereck and Beverly. – www.wildlifeconservationfilms.com

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