Tessa Traeger is one of the outstanding still-life photographers of her generation, and is widely acknowledged as having raised the subject of photographic, food still-life to the status of art. Trained at Guildford School of Photography and Fine Art. Tessa Traeger has worked, and at times lived at Rossetti Studios in Chelsea, London since the 1960’s.
As an artist, she is especially known for her still-life photographs taken on large format cameras, many of which were published during her long association with British Vogue. Inspired by some of her illustrious predecessors, Tessa Traeger has sought to balance the demands and developments of both commissioned and experimental work. She has exhibited regularly since 1978 in Paris, London and New York, as well as participating in many group shows. Her work is represented in the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Biblioteque National in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Citibank collection in London.
In recent years she has been working in the Ardeche region of Southern France to record and celebrate the life of the mountain people and the food and produce, as well as producing monumental landscape works. Also, highly personal photographs in sequences, investigating the symbolic possibilities of inanimate objects such as eggs and trees in North Devon.
Tessa also worked on a commission from the National Portrait Gallery to photograph the leading British horticulturists of the day, and their inspirational gardens. The exhibition ran from June to October 2004 and had record attendencies.
In 2011 Tessa Traeger was appointed Artist in Residence at Boughton House and asked to create new works which would express aspects of the music collection in visual terms. She focused on two books of choreography published between 1706 and 1720 which record dance using the calligraphic system known as Beauchamp-Feuillet notation and combined this arcane calligraphy with expressive details she discovered amongst the many family portraits which hang in the house. These prints were exhibited in 2014 at Boughton House with a paperback to support the show, with an introduction by Liz Jobey.
This was followed in 2013 by ‘The Chemistry of Light’ in which she used found images and emulsions in decay discovered on a series of 19th century glass plate negatives that came to her as part of an inherited photography collection.
In 2017, after 52 years at No. 7 Rossetti Studios in Chelsea, Tessa moved to a smaller space nearby at No.77 Chesil Court. To mark the occasion, she created an exhibition at her studio called ‘Wild is the Wind’ of the landscapes around her Devon home and produced an artist’s book in a limited paperback edition of 52 copies with poems by Mark Haworth-Booth.
In 2018 Madeleine Bessborough invited her to re-create this exhibition at her gallery The New Art Centre at Roche Court, Wiltshire. For this show she produced and wrote a new hardback artist’s book called Wild World, with calligraphy by Ruan Hoffmann.
On November 24th 2019 The Wild Word exhibition was opened at Roche Court by the Irish artist Dorothy Cross and on January 19th 2020 Susan Derges and Tessa Traeger gave a gallery talk.