British photographic history

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Exhibition: Illuminated World - A unique exploration of early photography from an extraordinary local man

Bexley Heritage Trust unveils Illuminated World exhibition at Hall Place. A unique exploration of early photography from an extraordinary local man Hall Place, situated in Bexley, a Tudor mansion set in magnificent sixty five hectares of gardens, is this autumn welcoming a unique photography exhibition; Illuminated World.

Opening October 6, it showcases local man, Arthur Boswell’s (1880-1966) rare collection of early Victorian photography that he took and compiled throughout his lifetime. Visitors will be taken on a fascinating journey of people and places from African plains, Norwegian fjords to Italian cities, contrasted with Bexley and the local area all as they were a century ago. Illuminated World will provide a magical encounter of life in Victorian times and an appreciation of the customs and cultures that would have enchanted observers during an era when people were travelling more than ever before. Visitors can also learn about photographic techniques of the time with original apparatus on display.

The exhibition will lead visitors through a series of splendid rooms in Hall Place each more captivating than the last as it charts Boswell’s exploration through imagery of the world, coming back to his beloved Bexley. Unearthed from the town’s local archive, this is the first time the images created from original glass lantern slides have been on show to the public and the selection represents only a fraction of the total of some 14,000 images.

Piecing together this curious collection was Kirsty Macklen, Collections Manager, Hall Place: “Little is known of both Boswell and indeed of many of the subjects shown in the pictures which makes them both captivating and mysterious. By definition photography was so different then which makes for an interesting counterpoint to the pervasiveness of
digital photography today.”

What is known anecdotally of Boswell was his apparent joie de vivre which extended to every part of his life as he took on a variety of professions from historian to palmist. However, no passion was so apparent as his love for his local area and for visual arts, working both as an amateur photographer and cinema projectionist.

The exhibition that runs until March 17 aims to put Hall Place firmly on the map of must sees in Kent, and marks its recent inclusion in the National Trust Partners scheme. Caroline Worthington, Chief Executive of Bexley Heritage Trust commented: “Illuminated World is an exhibition we are delighted to unveil. We know it will appeal equally to photography and history lovers as much as it will to local residents. This continues a series of innovative and engaging exhibitions as we aim to cement Hall Place as a must-visit tourist destination and attract more visitors from the capital and around the UK.”

The exhibition was made possible with support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Max Communications Ltd. in association with Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre.

Visitor Information

Opening hours
October 6 – March 17, 2013 (daily 10am-5pm, last entry 4.30pm)

Illuminated World, Hall Place, Bexley, Kent, DA5 1PQ
By road
Just off the A2 at the Black Prince interchange 5 miles from Junction 2 of the M25 towards London.
Free parking.
By train:
From London via Cannon Street, Charing Cross, London Bridge.
Oyster card applicable route from London

Adults £7, concessions/under 16s £5, family £20
Admission is free with a National Art Pass. National Trust members discount applies
Gift Aid your ticket for unlimited entry for one year

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