A Stitch in Time

Historic Photographs Get a Surreal Makeover

It all started rather innocuously enough. Australian photographer and digital artist, Jane Long was trawling for copyright-free images that she could practice her retouching skills on. When she stumbled across the archive of Romanian war photographer Costică Acsinte, she was transfixed, and so began the ongoing and highly successful Dancing with Costică series.

The Juggling Act
“I just fell in love with the subjects and the quality of the light in many of the images,” Jane recalls. Using her deft digital skills she injects these already striking and timeless photographs with a real sense of fun, wonder and sometimes mischief. Although the originals clearly have their own stories to tell, Jane paints a new narrative on top of them, often bordering on the surreal and the absurd. But this technique brings a dash of magic to the austere settings and really brings the history to life in new and exciting ways.

“I’m not kidding myself that my art is going to change the world,” Jane tells us. “I’d like people to look at it and smile and think about what it would be like to have duck feet or to keep a trained goldfish for a minute or two! Just a moment to brighten their day. And if they stop and think a little about the people in the original images and the lives they lived then that’s a bonus.”

A Stitch in Time
We had a chat with Jane to learn more:

The Plus: Are you interested in your own family history?
Jane Long:
I was when I was younger. We have a big old brass-bound family bible with the family history pages in the middle. I used to love looking through it as a kid. Turns out I’m related to the poet Robert Burns but that’s about my best claim to fame!

TP: Do you think the series will run and run?
I’m not sure how many more images Cezar Popescu (the gentleman restoring and digitizing the glass plates) has left to do! He keeps finding more! Each time he puts up a new lot I go through them and occasionally earmark something that sparks an idea. It’s a long way between an idea and a final image though so not all of those will be developed. For the time being I’m happy to watch and wait but I think there’s still a few Costica collaborations left out there somewhere!

TP: Can you think of a photograph that is significant to you?
Special family photos are about special moments for me, even if it’s with hindsight. The last photo of me with my Dad and all three of my brothers, my daughter as a toddler giggling whilst I tickle her, my son hugging our dog and of course wedding photos! Some of them where somewhat mundane moments at the time but now they are precious!

TP: Are you working on any other projects?
I have a number of other projects on the go and in various stages of completion. I have a project with drag queens I’ve had on hold for some time that I want to get started again. I have a major photography series I’m working on with images shot in, under, over and around water and a new series where I’m looking at recolouring images of sculptures.

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