British photographic history

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Last call: Photography in Plymouth and the South West

Amateurs and Artists: 19th and 21st Century Photography in the South West. A conference presented by Royal Photographic Society, Historical Group, from Friday, 13 May– Sunday, 15 May 2011 in the Lecture Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA.

Early photography in Plymouth is an untold story. Robert Hunt, independent inventor of photographic processes, Richard Beard, the first daguerreotype licensee, Charles Eastlake RA, first RPS president, and Linnaeus Tripe, an early calotypist, were all from Plymouth. W.H.F. Talbot, inventor of the positive/negative (calotype negative) process, photographed Plymouth in 1845 and Roger Fenton photographed the Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash, in 1858. Local interest in photography was such that the Devon and Cornwall Photographic Circle was established in January 1854.

The conference is linked closely to three exhibitions. Amateurs and Artists: Early Photography and Plymouth at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, on display 9th April to 30th July 2011. Out of the Ordinary, a group exhibition of work by members of the Royal Photographic Society, South West Contemporary Group is on display at Sherwell Centre, University of Plymouth, 9th to 27th May 2011. The third exhibition, Chemical Traces, is a response to Amateurs and Artists: Early Photography and Plymouth, and will be on display in Scott Building, University of Plymouth. Tours of these exhibitions form part of the conference on Friday and there will be a special viewing of Amateurs and Artists on Friday, 5.30 – 7.00 pm.

The speakers, who represent a wide range of photographic expertise: curators, university staff, photohistorians and contemporary photographers, include Carolyn Bloore, Jon Blyth, Colin Ford, Rod Fry, Michael Gray, John Hannavy, Jenny Leathes, Richard Morris, Nigel Overton, Matthew Pontin and Jem Southam. Speakers correct at time of printing.


Friday 13th May and Saturday 14th May 2011 10.30am-5.00pm. Main speakers and lecture programme. 

Saturday 14th May 2011 7.30 pm (Optional)
Conference Dinner, Jurys Inn, 50 Exeter Street, Plymouth. Menu options are to be pre-booked, see menu choice sheet and booking form. The cost is an additional £19.95. Jurys Inn is conveniently located for the Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth and Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery in Drakes Circus, Plymouth. Preferential rates have been agreed for overnight accommodation with Jurys Inn. See rates at bottom of menu choice sheet and booking information.

*Sunday 15th May 2011 Events 11.30 am – 4.00 pm (Optional)
A calotype demonstration. Revisiting the site of William Henry Fox Talbot’s photograph, The Victualling
Office, Plymouth, 1845, a view from the Battery at Mount Edgcumbe across Plymouth Sound. Meet at the
Orangery, (café) Mount Edgcumbe, 11.30 am. The Cremyll ferry leaves Admirals Hard, Stonehouse,
Plymouth at 11.15 am (ferry time 8 minutes). Departure times, 09.15 quarter to and quarter past the hour
until 21.15. Return journey depart Mount Edgcumbe 09.00 on the half hour and hour until until 21.00.
Single fares only £1.20.

2.30 – 4.00 pm Reconstruction of the position of the early 19th century Camera Obscura on The
Promenade, Plymouth Hoe. An opportunity to view the optics and the panorama within the Fotonow
VW Camper Obscura. The Fotonow VW Camper Obscura will be on this site, Friday – Sunday, 13th – 15th
May, 9 am until 6.30 pm.

Conference fee £50 per person  Conference dinner £19.95 per person (optional)

Booking forms and information can be downloaded from:

For further information please contact:
Jenny Ford, Secretary, RPS Historical Group or tel. 01234 881459

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