British photographic history

Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history

Dr Marcus Bunyan's Blog (11)

Exhibition: 'Blue Prints: The Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins' / New York, until 17 February 2019

What is interesting to me is not just Atkins choice of the new medium of photography to describe, both scientifically and aesthetically, the beauty and detail of her collection of seaweeds; but within that new medium of photography, she chose not the photogenic or calotype process, but the graphic cyanotype process with its vivid…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on December 26, 2018 at 8:00 — No Comments

Review: Shadows of War: Roger Fenton's Photographs of the Crimea, 1855 / London: The Queen's Gallery, 9 Nov 2018 - 28 Apr 2019

This portrait (below) shows Captain Alexander Leslie-Melville (1831-57), known as Lord Balgonie. He was the eldest son of the 8th Earl of Leven, a Scottish peer. Lord Balgonie served in the Grenadier Guards during the war, and died only a couple of years after returning to Britain. At the time, his death was attributed to the hardships of the war. Fenton has photographed him…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on April 3, 2018 at 10:30 — No Comments

Exhibition: 'Into the Woods: Trees in Photography' / London, Victoria and Albert Museum, until 22 April 2018

I grew up on a farm for the first thirteen years of my life. I played in the fields and forests of England, and wandered the cart paths with my brother. I saw him for the first time in thirty years last August, after the passing of my father. We went back and walked those very same paths where we grew up and looked at the magnificent trees planted along the edge of the…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on March 26, 2018 at 10:00 — 1 Comment

Display: 'Stan Firm inna Inglan' at Tate Britain, London

November 2017: This was the best photography exhibition which wasn't an exhibition - because it was a "display" - that I saw on my recent trip to Europe. Why was it the best? Because this is what strong, insightful photography can do: it can capture life; it can document different cultures; and it can be a powerful agent for social change.

I remember London in the 1970s. I lived in Clapham (Claiff-ham Heights) and Stockwell (we called it St. Ockwell)…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on November 22, 2017 at 10:00 — No Comments

Exhibition: 'Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862-1948' at the National Portrait Gallery, London

As documentary evidence, the photographs attest to the lives of the disenfranchised. They mark the lives of individual people as that most valuable thing, a human life. In this sense they are important. But I find this photographic documentation of Britain's imperial history of empire and expansion quite repugnant, both morally and spiritually. Where the "Sir Johns" and "Sir…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on December 5, 2016 at 9:30 — No Comments

Exhibition review: 'Painting with Light: Art and Photography / Tate Britain, London

An interesting concept for an exhibition. I would have liked to have seen the exhibition to make a more informed comment. Parallels can be drawn, but how much import you put on the connection is up to you vis-à-vis the aesthetic feeling and formal construction of each medium. It is fascinating to note how many of the original art works are photographs with the painting…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on September 20, 2016 at 11:00 — No Comments

Archive: Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: England, 1993

I finally got around to scanning some more of my black and white archive, this time further photographs from a trip to England in 1993 forming a new sequence. The photographs picture my now ageing mother (these were taken over 20 years ago), an English fair, medieval tiles and Highgate Cemetery, among other subjects. They become especially poignant after the recent passing of…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on June 11, 2016 at 5:30 — No Comments

Exhibition: 'Julia Margaret Cameron' at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Another exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) from the same source (the Victoria and Albert Museum) as the exhibition I travelled up to Sydney to review last year.

I am always ecstatic when I see her work, no more so than when I view images that I have not seen before, such as that dark, brooding slightly out of…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on January 25, 2016 at 9:30 — No Comments

Review: 'The road less travelled' / Exhibition: 'Julia Margaret Cameron

It was a flying visit to Sydney to see the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The trip was so very worthwhile, for I had never seen JMC's large contact photographs "in the flesh" before, let alone over 100 vintage prints from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection. They did not disappoint. This exhibition is one of the…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on November 9, 2015 at 8:30 — 1 Comment

Exhibition review: 'Photography - A Victorian Sensation' / NMS, Edinburgh

In our contemporary image-saturated, comprehensively mediated way of life it is difficult for us to understand how "sensational" photography would have been in the Victorian era. Imagine never having seen a photograph of a landscape, city or person before. To then be suddenly presented with a image written in light, fixed before the eye of the beholder, would have been a…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on November 9, 2015 at 8:30 — No Comments

Exhibition: Victorian London in Photographs 1839 to 1901 / LMA

This is a fascinating exhibition about the history of London portrayed through Victorian era photographs. The best photographs in the posting are by John Thomson. The composition of these images is exemplary with their eloquent use of light and low depth of field. The seemingly nonchalant but obviously staged positioning of the figures is coupled with superb rendition of…

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Added by Dr Marcus Bunyan on October 4, 2015 at 6:30 — No Comments

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