British photographic history

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John Thomson grave restoration project: your help requested

The final resting place of the photographer John Thomson (1837-1921) who photographed in China and Asia in the 1860s and 1870s has been recently located and is the subject of a project to restore it. Located in Streatham cemetery, south London, the badly eroded headstone has fallen over and is lying flat on the ground with the inscription barely legible.

Scottish photographer, John Thomson, was one of the first to extensively document the Far East between 1862-1872.  He photographed in China, Thailand and Cambodia, publishing his images in a series of books. In association with Adolphe Smith, he produced the seminal book Street Life in London (1876-77), a visual and written survey of the people of London.

Thomson was a member of the Photographic Society (later the Royal Photographic Society) from 1879, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, where he instructed many of the great Victorian explorers and expeditions in photography.

His photographs provide a rich and lasting visual record of the Far East and closer to home. It is fitting that his grave is restore to renew memorial to a remarkable man and his work.

A new exhibition of Thomson's photography China and Siam Through the Lens of John Thomson has opened at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London and is on view until 23 June 2018. 

Please donate to renovate John Thomson’s grave:

Image courtesy of Terry Bennett. 

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Comment by Kath Shawcross on April 18, 2018 at 20:51

Hi - have you contacted The Streatham Society for local support?


Comment by Gael Newton on April 16, 2018 at 10:21

Happy to donate. Ive just written an essay for the Peranakan Museum Singapore  on how Thomson's style and concept of street photography began in Singapore. Sorry to be old fashioned but I have to join justgiving to donate.

I cant bear to give yet another crowd sourcing body  my details - is there an alternative way to send money? Maybe Ill see if I have any GBP left  from my last trip and post it!


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