British photographic history

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Event: The Preservation of our Global Photographic Heritage / London, 10 July 2018

The Icon Photographic Materials Group, Tru Vue and The National Archives are delighted to announce an evening lecture by Professor Debra Hess Norris, titled: I’ve Just Seen a Face: The Preservation of our Global Photographic Heritage. 

Photograph and film collections are held in museums, libraries, archives and private homes all over the world: they document our global heritage. These materials are deteriorating owing to exposure to poor environmental conditions, inadequate storage, and natural disasters. During this presentation, Debra will introduce the fundamental properties and care of photographic print and negative collections and address why their preservation is vital and relevant.

The lecture is aimed at conservators, historians, curators, photographers, artists and collection managers as well as interested non-specialists. The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Debra Hess Norris is Professor of photograph conservation at the University of Delaware, and an internationally renowned author, teacher and lecturer.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018
18:00 – 21:00
Cost: £5-£10

St Bride Foundation, Bridewell Hall, 14 Bride Lane, London, EC4Y 8EQ

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Comment by Alex Novak on June 11, 2018 at 16:49

Thanks for the information, Michael.  It's a great site and you do a service to our field.

A couple of notes to the other posters here.  Clark, you need to come and visit me at some point. Your invitation is always extended. :-)  Your comment about delamination has several issues.  Immersion in water to unmount albumen prints has some modest negative effects, as conservator Paul Messier has noted in his paper on this topic. Board acidity can be somewhat ameliorated by contact with acid reducing mat board.  And the costs of delaminating entire collections can be prohibitive and amount to tens of thousands of images are not insignificant. Given the top team of Getty conservators, I sincerely doubt that the Getty's photos have deteriorated much since you originally saw them.

As to Bobbie's comments.  Yes, it is sad to see items broken up, but it would be even sadder to see government regulations in this regard.  Better that governments step up and fund the arts more to buy up important items to keep them whole.  Since I don't see that happening, and since it's been private collectors and dealers who've saved virtually all of our photographic heritage from the scrap heap, adding further burdens on this group won't really serve any purpose, in my humble opinion.



Comment by clark worswick on June 11, 2018 at 15:43

God morning Professor Norris.

 Some years ago I told the Getty Museum curators that they had best think perhaps, about "delaminating" their Indian photography collections.  Time was running out on many pictures because of the highly acidic 19th century photographer's albums in which they had been placed.

Unhappily two and half decades later, in a conversation with the then new Director of the Getty Museum, he asked me about his Asian/Indian 19th century photography collections and their quality.

 For a long moment I looked at him and I replied, "Well. I think the museum is in a unique position.   You had a wonderful collection once.  Decades ago I told your department to take your pictures off their mounts.  Happily, today you are in a lovely position perhaps of starting all over again with new agendas for your collections.  Who knows the wonderful things you can collect.  So much of your collection has ceased to exist and it has simply has faded away ."

As postscript after 60 years of looking at these pictures I might add that, with the wastage of time, many of these 19th century photographs exist only in single or very few prints extant.

At that, at least in the 19th century India field for example, after every attic and closet on earth has been emptied by EBay and world-wide photography auctions, pictures that remain in good condition are presently most difficult to impossible find in the markets.   t

With very best wishes

Clark Worswick



Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on June 11, 2018 at 10:41

When one understands that so many Victorians and Edwardians were avid photo, postcard album and 'Everyday Book' (scrapbook) producers as individuals and within families where lifestyles and interests were recorded - there ought to be legislation that halted the wanton pulling apart and destruction of whole albums by collectors and buyers out to make from one ripped-out photo or postcard a bob or two. Complete photo and postcard albums tell particular holistic Victorian and Edwardian stories that one photo or postcard doesn't.      

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