British photographic history

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Lecture: Lives and Afterlives: The Photographic Lens and Legacy of Frederick Dally

The  Centre for the GeoHumanities is pleased to announce that Professor Joan M. Schwartz (Queen's University Canada) will give the third Denis Cosgrove Lecture on the 23rd May 2018. Elizabeth Edwards, Visting Professor at the V&A Research Institute will act as respondent.

In 1866, the young Englishman Frederick Dally opened a photographic studio in Victoria, at the time, capital of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island. In the remarkable visual legacy he produced over the next four years, we can discern the origins of an enduring vision of British Columbia—as an outpost of Empire, as a gold rush colony, as a Royal Naval station, as the home of Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. We can also recognize the power of photography as a tool of documentation, visualization, and imagination.

Dally's images reflect ideas about land and life brought to British Columbia by government administrators, Royal Engineers, and Royal Navy officers; by miners, merchants, and settlers. Compiled into personal narratives of colonial service, commercial enterprise, and individual initiative, his portraits and views helped to reinforce old world values and shape new world traditions. Pasted into albums taken back east, enclosed in letters sent abroad, published as engravings in books and the illustrated press, they have helped to focus our thinking, shape our writing, and construct our ideas about place and progress, identity and belonging in British Columbia.

Many of Dally’s images have become icons of British Columbia history. In this paper, I follow the lives and afterlives of some of these images as they moved through time and across spaces, both physical and digital. With an emphasis on context and meaning, order and materiality, this foray into oeuvre and archivesheds light on the role Dally’s photographs played in shaping both Victorian understandings of the nineteenth-century present and contemporary understandings of the Victorian past.

Moore Building, Lecture Theatre, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham

Admission is free, but booking required here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/3rd-denis-cosgrove-lecture-lives-and...

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