British photographic history

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Mike Ware donates his book collection to the John Rylands library

In a Facebook post the chemist and photographic historian Dr Mike Ware confirmed that he had donated his library to the John Rylands library, Manchester. Ware has applied his background as a chemist and scientist to photographic history, particularly on a series of projects at the then National Media Museum and most recently on the platinum process. The library will be cataloguing the books after which they will be made available. 

Ware's biography reads as below:

Dr MIKE WARE graduated in chemistry at the University of Oxford (1962), where he subsequently obtained his doctorate in molecular spectroscopic research (1965). He has followed a career in academic science, lecturing and researching in structural and inorganic chemistry at the University of Manchester (1964-92); becoming a Chartered Chemist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1982).

He is now independently committed to studying the science, history, conservation, and art of alternative photographic processes. A Kodak Photographic Bursary (1984) initially supported his research on printing in noble metals, which was recognised by the award of the Hood Medal of the Royal Photographic Society (1990), of which he was a Fellow, and by the Richard Farrand Memorial Award of the British Institute of Professional Photographers (1991).

Dr Ware has acted as a consultant to the National Media Museum, Bradford, England, and has supervised postgraduate research in photograph conservation at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art, and in alternative photographic processes at the University of Derby. He was the first External Examiner for the new M.A. course in Photographic Studies at De Montfort University. He has acted as a scientific advisor to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and in 2016 he was awarded the Special Recognition of Allied Professionals by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

The results of his technical research on improving historic processes, such as the platinotype, palladiotype, cyanotype and chrysotype, have been published in both the scientific and popular literature, and he is the inventor of the new argyrotype process (1991). Several historical studies he has made of early photography have appeared in the academic periodical, History of Photography. The conservation of the first photographs on paper, photogenic drawings by Henry Talbot, is the subject of his book Mechanisms of Image Deterioration in Early Photographs (1994), and the Cyanotype process invented by Sir John Herschel is dealt with in his book Cyanotype: the History, Science and Art of photographic printing in Prussian Blue (1999) – both published by the Science Museum, London. His latest monographs are Gold in Photography and The Chrysotype Manual (2006).  By way of a counterbalance to scholarly activity, he is also an exhibiting photographer, and since 1981 has shown his personal work widely in galleries in Europe, the USA and Australia; examples have been acquired for several national collections.

He has conducted specialist workshops and masterclasses in alternative printing techniques throughout the world, and has appeared on BBC Televison in the Open University series ‘The Chemistry of Creativity’ (1995). Regarding photography as an ideal meeting ground for science and art, his ambition is to bridge the gap between the Two Cultures by harnessing chemical science to enhance the art of photographic expression.

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