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Library of Birmingham Photography Collection lends to China

Birmingham's Library has loaned two sets of important photographs from its nationally and internationally significant collections to a major exhibition in Guangzhou, China. The photographs are being hand-carried by curator Pete James. 

The exhibition, The Unseen, to be shown at the Guangdong Museum of Art, forms part of the Guangzhou Triennial Festival. The Fourth Guangzhou Triennial, one of the biggest art events in China, is curated by Jiang Jiehong, Director of Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (Birmingham City University) and Ikon Gallery director Jonathan Watkins. The Unseen refers to the complexity of ways of seeing, focusing our attention on the invisible, but by no means precluding the visible.

The Library is loaning 18 photographs by Felice Beato taken in Canton in 1860 and 12 photographs by Dr Harold E. Edgerton, the pioneer of high-speed photography, from his portfolio Seeing the Unseen, 1977.

The loan of the Beato images follows the visit of Dr Luo Yiping, Director of Guangdong Museum of Art, to the Library earlier this year to see a range of historical and contemporary photographs of China held in the Library Collections. The Beato photographs were first shown in an exhibition From Canton to Guangzhou, curated by Pete James, Head of Photography at the Library and Dr Jiang Jiehong, at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2008.

The Edgerton photographs are drawn from a portfolio of prints, Seeing the Unseen, which were shown as part of a collaborative project with the Ikon gallery in 2010. Edgerton’s invention in the 1930s of a photographic process based on rapid, stroboscopic instances of light or ‘flash’ was a catalytic event in the history of photography, science and art. Using this method Edgerton’s images reveal in precise detail previously unseen aspects of reality.



Image: Dr Jiang Jiehong, Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, and Dr Luo Yipping (2nd right) and family visiting Birmingham Central Library.

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