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NMeM signage and foyer works

12200885090?profile=originalMention was made here last year of a major project to revamp the National Media Museum's signage and foyer area. This work which cost around £350,000 is now complete. Click here for details of the original report:

( The photographs below show the outcome of the project which comprises:

  • The installation of a video game display, including working video games and an exhibition of game consoles
  • The removal of the box office and shop to new locations within the foyer
  • The installation of an information wall
  • New signage throughout the museum
  • Space invader graphics on the main window and inside the foyer area
  • LED top lighting in the foyer

Some photographs here show the outcome...

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Eadweard Muybridge at Tate London

Eadweard Muybridge, Back Somersault c.1887, Courtesy Kingston Museum and Heritage ServiceThe pioneering British photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) will be the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain in autumn 2010. Bringing together around 150 works, this exhibition will demonstrate how Muybridge broke new ground in the emerging art form of photography. From his iconic images of animals and humans in motion to depictions of the sublime landscapes and life of the dynamic America of the later nineteenth century, the exhibition will explore the ways in which Muybridge created and honed his remarkable images that continue to resonate powerfully with artists and photographers.

Born in Kingston upon Thames in April 1830, Muybridge studied photography in Britain and built his career in America. Perhaps best known for his extensive photographic portrayal of animals and human subjects in motion, he was also a highly successful landscape and survey photographer, documentary artist, inventor, and war correspondent. Muybridge’s revolutionary techniques produced timeless images that have profoundly influenced generations of photographers, filmmakers and artists, including Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Douglas Gordon.

This broadly chronological exhibition will focus on the period of rapid technological and cultural change from 1870 to 1904. It will include the celebrated early experimental series of motion-capture photographs such as Attitudes of Animals in Motion 1878-1882, and the later sequence Animal Locomotion 1887. It will also consider how Muybridge constructed, manipulated and presented these photographs and will feature his original zoopraxiscope, which projected his images of suspended motion to create the illusion of movement.

Muybridge’s carefully managed studio photographs contrast with his panoramic landscapes of America, in which he balanced professionalism with a truly artistic sensibility. He was fascinated by change and progress and his photographs caught both the natural beauty of this vast continent, and the rapid colonial modernisation of its towns and cities. The exhibition will include many of his series of images of the Yosemite Valley, including dramatic waterfalls from 1867 and 1872, along with views of Alaska, Guatemala, urban panoramas of San Francisco, and his 1869 survey of the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad in California, Nevada and Utah. These photographs form a unique social document of this fascinating period of history, as well as representing a profound achievement of technological innovation and artistic originality.

Muybridge travelled between Britain, America and Europe throughout his career, studying photography in Britain, and later lecturing around the world. In 1874 while living in San Francisco he shot his wife’s lover dead and had her son placed in an orphanage, but was acquitted of the crime as a ‘justifiable homicide’, a story retold in Philip Glass’s opera The Photographer. He returned to England in 1894, and died at home in Kingston in 1904.

The exhibition is curated by Philip Brookman, Chief Curator, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington and at Tate Britain by Ian Warrell, curator of 18th and 19th century British Art, Tate, and Carolyn Kerr, curator, Tate Britain, and is organised with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington. A fully illustrated catalogue, produced by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, will be available

The exhibition will be at the Tate's Linbury Galleries, Tuesday 8 September 2009 – Sunday 16 January 2011
Admission £10 (£9, £8 concessions)
Opening hours: 10.00-17.50 (last admission 17.00)
The show is organised by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
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The National Coal Mining Museum for England will be hosting a symposium, entitled ‘The Narrator’s Gaze, fifty years of documentary photography’, on Friday 26 March 2010, from 10.30am until 4.30pm. The event is being held in association with the new special exhibition, ‘Northern Soul, John Bulmer’s images of life and Times in the 1960s’.

A pioneer of colour photography during the 1960s, Bulmer’s work was included in the very first colour supplement launched by The Sunday Times. Inspired by The Times Special Issue entitled ‘The North’, the exhibition includes work specially reprinted from this influential story.

The conference celebrates fifty years since Bulmer first began recording England’s industrial heritage and will be chaired by Colin Harding, the Curator of Photographic Technology at the National Media Museum. The keynote speakers, whose work spans each of the last five decades, include John Bulmer, Homer Sykes, Martin Jenkinson, Ian Beesley, and Moira Lovell.

The event is being held in association with the University of Bolton and Gallery Oldham. A second symposium linked to Gallery Oldham’s forthcoming photography exhibition, ‘The North South Divide’, will be taking place at the Gallery Oldham on 15 May 2010.

Tickets for ‘The Narrator’s Gaze, fifty years of documentary photography’ are on sale now at £15.00 each; concessions are available on request. The tickets price includes refreshments as well as a tour of the exhibition. A reduced rate is available for delegates attending both events. For more information or to book tickets, please contact the Museum’s Booking Officer on 01924 848 806 or visit the Museum’s website

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This exhibition was the idea of David Price (1945-2008), known to his friends as Dai. David was a Flintshire based photography enthusiast and member of the Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain.

Some years ago, he was given a large collection of glass negatives which had been found in the attic of a friend. The negatives numbered over 500, and were still contained in their original boxes and paper sleeves. Many were labelled with the date, location and subject and covered the period from around 1900 to the early 1920s.

David tried hard to locate descendants of the family, but with little success. Any information about the Urton family or their activities would be welcomed.

We do not know what happened to the actual photographs Jack Urton took, as only the glass negatives survive. These have been scanned and enlarged to create the prints for this exhibition.

We are very grateful to Heather Price for her generosity and support towards this exhibition, in memory of her husband David, and his wish to share these wonderful pictures with others.

Book available
'An Edwardian Family Album' by David and Heather Price will be available from the Lady Lever Art Gallery shop, The Bookshop Mold and other local bookshops. The cover price is £9.99.

Information taken from:

Photo: © National Museums Liverpool. Heather Price
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As Tim Burton's new film, based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, hits the UK cinema screens, the National Media Museum, Bradford will be celebrating it by holding special Hidden Treasure Tours on Saturday 6th & 13th March, Sunday 7th &14th March. You will be able to see photographs taken by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) of Alice Liddell who inspired the character of Alice in these tours.

Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, on January 27 1832. On July 4 1862, a bright summer's day, Carroll and a university colleague, Canon Robinson Duckworth, took Alice, Lorina and Edith Liddell on a boat trip and picnic along the river Isis. It was on these river trips that Carroll developed his interest in photography and he soon began doing portraits of the Liddell girls. Many of the portraits he took, can be seen at the National Media Museum in Bradford. You will need to telephone in advance to arrange to view a large collection of his photography.

The National Portrait Gallery is also an important holding for photographs either taken by or featuring Carroll. He began taking photographs in 1856 and was soon producing far less stilted and artificial portraits than those taken by many professional portraitists of the time.

Further information can be found here:

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll. © NPG
The Liddell sisters by Lewis Carroll. © National Portrait Gallery
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BJP ceases weekly publication

After more than 150 years the British Journal of Photography is to cease weekly publication and will return to being a monthly. Established in 1854 as a monthly, the BJ went fortnightly in 1857 and then weekly in 1864. The 3 March 2010 issue will be the first of a redsigned monthly magazine. The move leaves Amateur Photographer (established 1884) as the only weekly British photographic magazine.

Changing market conditions and the growth of the internet have precipitated the change. The BJ has a strong web and blog presence but for the last few years its influence within photography has declined as it has focused more on press, fashion and the image, moving away from a more general concern with photography. It's heyday was probably during the 1980s when a range of contributors under the editorship of Geoffrey Crawley kept readers informed about everything from holography and history, to interviews with business personalities as well as photographers. It's worth quoting one of the aims of the journal from issue no. 1 of January 14 1854: 'The admirers of the art naturally desire to have more particulars, and the practical operators more full and precise records of the suggestions, experiments, and successes in various parts of the world' by the end of 1854 it was able to be claim that it held 'the position of principal Provincial organ of Photography'.

The change is the end of an era for the British photographic press. For most of its history the BJP was always the most important journal of photography reporting news and features across the full spectrum of photography. It is sad that has now ended.

Read nore here:

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NMeM visitor numbers fall 18 per cent

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has published its latest survey of UK museum and gallery visitor numbers. In 2009 the National Media Museum, Bradford, saw 613,923 visitors - a decline of 18 per cent on 2008. The 2008 figure was 745,857 which had been a 4 per cent rise on 2007. Many other museums and galleries - especially those with free admission like the NMeM - had seen a boost to their numbers with the public turning to free activities due to the recession.

Colin Philpott, the NMeM Director commented: "We are disappointed that our visitor numbers were down in 2009 but this comes on the back of a period of considerable growth in the previous three years.

A number of factors have had an impact on our visitor numbers. Our summer holiday programme did not prove as popular as in previous years. Along with some other West Yorkshire attractions the ‘staycation phenomenon’ (people holidaying in the UK rather than abroad) appears to have passed us by as “stay at home” holidaymakers chose traditional UK tourist destinations such as the coast and cities like York.

Maintaining growth in visitor numbers is a challenge for any attraction and we have not had a major new gallery opening since Experience TV in 2006. However during 2010 we have already invested in a £400,000 redevelopment of the foyer area including a new Games Lounge, an interactive exhibition examining the history of videogaming, which opened last week and which is already proving extremely popular. More improvements are planned and we are confident we can improve visitor numbers over the coming years.

As important as visitor figures are, the Museum is doing extremely well in terms of other measures of success. Survey results show that our visitor satisfaction rates remain consistently high. In addition, the National Media Museum, alongside its sister venues - the National Railway Museum and the Science Museum - were last year named as the first museums in the UK to be awarded World-class Customer Service status."/font>

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Richard Morris a descendent through his wife's family of John Dillwyn Llewellyn provides details of a series of events to celebrate the bicentenary of his birth in 1810.

12 January 2010 - Bicentenary of the birth of John Dillwyn Llewelyn (b. 12 Jan 1810)

5 February - Launch of the Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn Diaries online, a new resource of the Swansea University Library Historical Collections. Details to be announced.

20 February - Penllergare – A Space Odyssey. Llewelyn Hall, Penllergaer. A family event organised by the Friends of Penllergare in association with Astro Cymru. (Free admission) 10.30am - Exhibition, Workshop and Activities. 2.30pm - Talk. From JDL to the Universe, Paul Haley (Director of Astro Cymru & the Share Initiative 3.30pm - 200th Anniversary Tea

3 March (provisional date) - Swansea Museum exhibition on Fellows of the Royal Society from Swansea

17 March - Residents of the Penllergare Orchideous House – A Botanist’s Perspective, Dr Kevin L Davies (research botanist & orchid specialist). 7.30pm. Llewelyn Hall, Penllergaer, organised by the Friends of Penllergare. (Free admission)

18 March - The Scientific Heritage of Wales: The Way Forward, a one-day conference at Cardiff Museum, 9am-4pm. Speakers include Professor John V. Tucker (Swansea University) whose paper, ‘A National History of Science’, includes work on the Dillwyns. A full programme is here. For booking and more information contact the organisers:Events Office, National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, CARDIFF, CF10 3NP; T: 029 2057 3148/3325 F: 029 2057 3321;

22 April - South Wales: 250 years of Landscape Change, Richard Keen (TV presenter & Chairman of the Historic Buildings Advisory Council). Organised by Friends of Penllergare. 7.30pm. Swansea Museum, Education Room.

15 May - Penllergare - A Paradise almost lost. Joint study day between West Glamorgan Branch of Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and Penllergare Trust. 10.00am - 5pm approx. at the Civic Centre, Swansea. Tickets available from WHGT Branch Secretary, 2 Cwmbach Road, Llanelli SA15 4EF. £30 including lunch etc. £25 for members of the WHGT and Friends of Penllergare., or send an SAE to Rita Lees, West Glamorgan WHGT Branch Secretary, Coedmor, 2 Cwmbach Road, Llanelli SA15 4EF

19th May - ‘The Dillwyns’, Richard Morris.2 pm, at “The Wednesday Club”, Rhossili Village Hall, Middleton. £1.50 admission.. Contact Dudley Thomas, 01792 390242. 29 May - Shooting Stars Astronomy Workshop/ In celebration of the bicentenary of John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s birth, learn about how Victorians viewed the stars in Wales and make your own stellar collage. Waterfront Museum, 11.30am, 1pm & 3.30pm Families 5 - 11. Space Today UK. Families (age 5 – 11) / Free/Delivered by Space Today UK/ pre booking recommended Tel 01792 638950

30 May - Funky Photograms! How did early photographers make their earliest images - without a camera? Find out and make your own using just shadows and light! National Waterfront Museum 11.30am, 1pm & 3.30pm. Families (age 5 – 11) / Free/book at reception on the day

30 May - Sunday Talk and Demonstration: Early Photographic Techniques with Richard Morris FRPS. Leading John Dillwyn Llewelyn expert Richard Morris will discuss Llewelyn’s pioneering work in the field of photography and bring alive his techniques in a practical demonstration. National Waterfront Museum, 2.30 pm Adults/Free/seating first come first served

25 June - Dillwyn Symposium: Science, Culture and Society. A one-day symposium organised by Swansea University. 9.00 am – 5.30 pm at Swansea Museum, followed by a reception (6pm) and evening lecture. A full programme to follow. Contact Kirsti Bohata at

3 July - John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s Penllergare. A walk round the Penllergare estate. 2.15pm. Meet in the Penllergaer Council Office Car Park, (off the A48). Organised by Friends of Penllergare.

18th September - John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s Photographic Legacy. Leading John Dillwyn Llewelyn expert Richard Morris will give a talk and demonstration of the calotype photographic process of 1841 as used by JDL. [Time to be confirmed], at the Woodland Centre, Penllergare. Bookings only as space limited from Friends of Penllergare, Coed Glantawe, Esgairdawe, Llandeilo SA19 7RT or 01558 650416

20 September - John Dillwyn Llewelyn and Photography, Richard Morris FRPS, MPhil. Swansea Camera Club 7.15pm. Web address for location and details:

13 November - ‘Images of Glamorgan’ Glamorgan History Society Day School. A one-day event at The Orangery, Margam including a talk on John Dillwyn Llewelyn by Richard Morris, a talk on Early Photography in Glamorgan by Carolyn Bloore. Contact

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V&A Photographs department update

Pierre-Louis Pierson, Portrait of the Countess de Castiglione, 1860s (printed circa 1940), gelatin silver print. V&A CollectionThe latest V&A Photographs Section newsletter from Curator Ashley Givens includes details of new acquisitions, research, publication and exhibitions that the curatorial staff have been working on.

The annual re-display which opens on Friday, 14 May will present some of the new works and will focus on showcasing photographs from the Collection dating from the 1970s to today. The exhibition will be accompanied by a display titled The Other Britain Revisited: The New Society Collection of Photographs, 1972 to 1982. New Society, a publication of the 1960s and 1970s, aimed to further research in the burgeoning fields of sociology and social work. The display will include photographs by leading names in recent British photography, including Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows, Euan Duff and Brian Griffin. It will also feature issues of

New Society magazine alongside the prints to provide a sense of the photographs’ original context.

The V&A Photographs department, in collaboration with the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) has been awarded funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund to collect photographs related to the black British experience. The aim is both to collect the work of earlier documentary photographers active in the 1950s to 1980s not currently represented in the Collection, and to build upon the existing holdings of work by more recent practitioners. This funding will also facilitate an oral history archive and an exhibition to be held at BCA.

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A friend, while playing with her sister in the Loft of there home - the Old Parsonage in the early 1950's - discovered many glass photographic plates taken by the Victorian Photographer, the Reverend Montague 'Monty' Bird.

He was a fine and enthusiastic photographer and pioneer motoring enthusiast - who took many images of local events and characters ....... and specialised in humorous PhotoMontages (skeleton dinner parties/ winged car flying over the Rectory (somewhat pre dated 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang').

As they are deteriorating, I have high resolution scanned the the available ones onto digital files to help preserve them for posterity (the others were left with the local Records Office in the 1950's) BUT they now appear lost!!

I am researching 'Monty's' life locally BUT am writing to enquire if any Members may have come across him (I understand he may have been a member of the Linked Ring/London Photographic Salon) in there photographic researches ............... ?

Many thanks,


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William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is remembered primarily as a photographic pioneer and influential early voice on photographic aesthetics, but his activities as a Victorian intellectual and “gentleman of science” ranged widely across the natural sciences, classical scholarship and Assyriology. This interdisciplinary conference will approach Talbot’s work with this wider perspective in mind, bringing together art historians, curators, historians of science, and practitioners of the many scholarly fields to which Talbot contributed. It will situate Talbot against the networks and institutions of Victorian intellectual enterprise, while raising basic questions about the relation between photography and these other fields.

The occasion for this conference is the British Library’s recent acquisition of a large archive of Talbot’s manuscripts, including research notebooks, diaries, correspondence, and photographic prints. The majority of papers delivered during this conference will present new research based on the study of hitherto unexamined items in this collection. They will explore such topics as Talbot’s lifelong engagement with mathematics, his successful attempts to decipher cuneiform scripts, his interest in philology and literature, the meaning of his botanical specimens, and his fascination with optical illusions and physiological optics. Contributions on Talbot’s photographic oeuvre will take into account the connections between Talbot’s invention of photography and his other scholarly and scientific activities. Further papers will explore the historical context of Talbot’s Cambridge education at Trinity College and his habitual practice of keeping research notebooks, in order to suggest how we might understand the manuscripts as material records of an intellectual culture and way of life that both enabled and constrained Talbot’s activities. The two keynote lectures, by James Elkins and Larry Schaaf, will explore the conference’s larger themes: the relationships between science, art and photography, and Talbot’s identity as a Victorian intellectual.

Programme is detailed here:

Mirjam Brusius (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge and the British Library)
Chitra Ramalingam (Mellon/ACLS Fellow, CRASSH, University of Cambridge)
Katrina Dean (Curator for the History of Science, British Library)

The standard fee is £30 (includes refreshments and lunch) with a discounted fee of £15 for students. Deadline for booking is Friday 18 June 2010.

For administrative enquiries please contact
The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
17 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX
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The fifth annual Annan Lecture will be given by Joe Mulholland, who tells the extraordinary story of the highly distinguished and important photographer Margaret Watkins, who died in obscurity in Glasgow in 1969. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1884, Watkins was active in New York in the 1920s, where she had a studio in Greenwich Village and worked with Clarence White and the other great photographers of the period including Stieglitz and Strand. Her work in advertising and art photography was often innovative and experimental, and she exhibited internationally.

In 1928 she visited her four elderly aunts in Glasgow, which became her base for the rest of her life, allowing her to travel in Europe and particularly in Russia where she made some of her most striking work. However, after the war she became very reclusive. Joe Mulholland was her neighbour, but in the many years he knew her, she never referred to her photographic career and it was only after her death that the nature and scale of her achievement became evident.

The lecture will take place in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, on Thursday 25 March 2010, at 6 pm. Admission free.

The Annan Lectures are presented by The Scottish Society for the History of Photography in association with the Mitchell Library.
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Mention was made previously of this exhibition which is on at theMetropolitan Museum in New York. A member has posted a wonderful example of photocollage on this site here: There is a useful review of the show on the blog Gallery Crawl which is reproduced below. For those in the UK the catalogue is available on Amazon.


“Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Michelle Jubin

There are few surprises in the latest nineteenth-century photography exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but there is plenty to delight in this jewel-box display of photocollages from the 1860s and 1870s. Works from the Met’s collection have been used as part of this exhibition, "Playing with Pictures: The art of the Victorian Photocollage," which originated at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Met collection has always been skewed toward the connoisseurial, even before the scholarly Thomas Campbell took over the Montebellian reins as museum director in 2008. Its encyclopedic collection has traditionally been employed in the pursuit of Enlightenment notions of ideal forms and idealized iterations of these forms by a hierarchical coterie of artists.

In the case of "Playing with Pictures," the elevated few whose works are displayed were, if not perhaps "artists," certainly already high-society. What makes this exhibition interesting, however, is the focus on a practice that hasn’t always been fodder for "high-art" exhibition spaces. The catalogue terms it "photocollage," but today we might also know it better as scrapbooking. Practiced within the home by mothers and daughters, often with the intention of creating a family heirloom or keepsake, it’s refreshing to see this slice of specifically female craft culture on display at a major museum. Long before Hannah Hoch got out her scissors and planted the Dada flag on the practice of reframing the photographic image, Victorian ladies were at it across the Western hemisphere. Their photocollages consisted of watercolor backdrops – usually domestic scenes, coquettish trompe l’oeil, or fanciful, delicately painted tableaux – with the visages of family and friends pasted atop in careful hierarchy. The exhibition reveals the intimacy of these collages, originally destined for private albums to be shared amongst close relations, and allows the viewer a novel insight into Victorian visual culture, a realm already heavily fetishized in academic and museum circles alike.

The exhibition opens with a "straight" photograph André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri a celebrated court and studio photographer of mid- and late-nineteenth-century Paris (reportedly, Napoleon stopped off at his studio en route to Waterloo). The format Disderi made famous is the eight-image carte-de-visite, the precursor to the modern multi-image passport photo, created with a multi-lensed camera. The curatorial team obviously wishes to make clear, in one checklist item, the increasing ubiquity of the photographic image from the 1850s onwards. The introduction of "wet paper" techniques from 1851 onwards facilitated cheap, easy, and quickly produced miniature studio photographs, and the opportunity to create not only one’s portrait but to fashion one’s public image. The photocollages created by aristocratic women with excess leisure time relied on this expanding technological field, turning it inwards, towards the privacy of the home.

Hung beside Disdéri’s carte-de-visite is a leaf from the Filmer Album of the mid-1860s, in which Lady Filmer has snipped away at family photographs to create a fanciful family tree in the shape of a green and black umbrella bedecked with five male relatives. The shape of the umbrella, as the wall text accompanying another collage employing a parasol suggests, points metaphorically to the popular nineteenth century accessory, used for flirtation or as a method of camouflage for gossiping underneath. The ‘Madame B’ Album – created by Madame Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier, the wife of a career diplomat - displays photographs of family amidst carefully rendered snowy boughs. Fournier used her album to establish herself in the tricky familial position as her husband’s second wife, while also serving as a travelogue as she followed him from post to post across Europe. Other women patchwork their own families with members of various royal houses, reminding us again that the photograph could be refashioned in any number of ways to cement or suggest social status, linking one’s own family with kings and queens. Georgina Berkeley’s album shows nine figures pasted together within a viewing box, red drapes painted around them. The theatricality and performance of photographic poses are suggested innately in the arrangement of family figures taking in the spectacle of the opera.

The exhibition is successful for a few reasons, not least the fact that it takes a neat slice (two small rooms total) of ephemeral visual culture and creates a strong, convincing narrative for this practice within the origin story of photographic history. The exhibition also includes computer hubs where visitors can view further examples of photocollage, rather than cluttering the walls, and provides catalogues for public perusal with several essays by curators at the Art Institute of Chicago, including "The Page as Stage" and "Society Cutups."

Photographic appropriation? Performance and play with social rules and roles? "Playing with Pictures" has it in spades, pointing to the moment in the nineteenth century that foreshadowed our own contemporary obsession with the post-production manipulation and the social spectacle of observation that are part-and-parcel of what the photographic means today. Richard Prince and Sherry Levine have nothing on these ladies.

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage runs through May 9th

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue

Take to 6 train to 77th street or the 4 or 5 train to 86th Street

Museum Hours: Tues-Thurs, 9:30-5:30; F and Sat, 9:30-9; Sun, 9:30-5:30

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Photo history on ITV Central News

Those of you who live in the East Midlands and receive ITV Central News will have the opportunity to see me being interviewed in a piece due to be broadcast on Monday evening (15th February). This stems from some work I have mentioned here before, where I worked with a forensic scientist to use handwriting in the attribution of a group of Victorian stereoviews. The reporter has made a link between modern 3D movies such as Avatar and Victorian stereoviews. The item should also be posted on the ITV website for a week after broadcast and if I don’t look and sound too stupid in the piece I’ll post the link here.

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Broadlands Archives

The University of Southampton has launched a major fundraising campaign to acquire a key collection of manuscripts that span major political and historical events of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Broadlands Archives, which have been on loan to its library since 1989, contain rare papers and photographs including letters from Queen Victoria and Mrs Oscar Wilde and portraits by the photographer Cecil Beaton. Among the Archives are correspondence of Lord Palmerston, the Victorian
Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister, and approximately 250,000 papers and 50,000 photographs.

The Broadlands Archives exhibition is on display at the Special Collections Gallery in the Hartley Library on the University of Southampton's Highfield campus from 25 January to 16 April 2010. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm. The exhibition is also open on Saturday 20 February and Saturday 20 March, 10am to 4pm.

For more details see the website

Albumen print of Lord Palmerston at Broadlands (circa 1850s)
A family group at Broadlands, mid-1870s, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Photos courtesy of the Trustees of the Broadlands Archives

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Talbot's Birthday

It's worth noting that today is the 210th anniversary of WHF Talbot's birth. We're celebrating in Lacock tonight.

It's also the 175th anniversary of the Latticed Window negative. We'll be celebrating that later in the year.
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Merseyside Maritime Museum, 16 July 2010 - 3 January 2011

A landmark exhibition about an incredible real life tale of survival, the epic story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Endurance expedition.

The exhibition features about 150 compelling photographs of the expedition's ordeal taken by ship photographer Frank Hurley, who dove into frigid waters to retrieve his glass plate negatives from the sinking Endurance. The photographs, printed from the original negatives and Hurley's album of prints, are accompanied by gripping memoirs from the voyage.

Photo: Hauling the James Caird. Copyright: Royal Geographical Society
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Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool, 5 February to 6 June 2010

CHINA: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872 is anhistoric photographic exhibition including 150 images taken in China between 1868 and 1872. The exhibition includes a wide variety ofimages, themes and locations in China from Beijing to Fujian toGuangdong including landscapes, people, architecture, domestic andstreet scenes.

This is the first exhibition in England of photographs of 19th century China taken by the legendary Scottish photographer and travel writer John Thomson (1837-1921). Thomson's collection of 650 glass plate negatives is now housed in the Wellcome Collection Library, London. This exhibition of almost 150 prints from the collection was shown in venues across China in 2009 before coming to Liverpool. Following the Merseyside Maritime Museum it will tour to Hartlepool in late 2010 and The Burrell Collection in early 2011.

John Thomson (1837–1921) was born in Edinburgh two years before the invention of the daguerreotype was announced to the world in 1839. This discovery was the beginning of photography. That same year Fox Talbot introduced the calotype process, and with this new medium David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, two remarkable Scottish photographers living in Edinburgh, produced nearly 3,000 images, including city views, landscapes and scenes of everyday life. Their work undoubtedly had a profound influence on Thomson. In the years leading up to Thomsonbecoming a professional photographer, the technology of photographyalso developed at an incredible speed. The invention of thewet-collodian process in 1850 is regarded as the watershed: it reducedthe exposure time and the cost of making photographs; it also producedsharper images. The wet-collodian process quickly replaceddaguerreotype and calotype. As Thomson remarked: ‘the detail inwet-collodian negatives was of microscopic minuteness whilst presentingthe finest gradation and printing quality which had never indeed beensurpassed by any known method’. But this in itself added to hisdifficulties: it was necessary to make the negatives on glass platesthat had to be coated with wet-collodian emulsion before the exposurewas made, thus there was a large amount of cumbersome equipment thathad to be carried from place to place.

Yet Thomson persevered. To endure hardship was part of his Victorian education. He showed enormous energy and stamina. Like many of his Victorian contemporaries, he was excited by the opening up of Africa and Asia to the West, and he shared in the enthusiasm for exploring exotic places. He believed that by using photography, ‘the explorer may add not only to the interest, but to the permanent value of his work’. And ‘the camera should be a power in this age of instruction to instruct the age’.

In 1862, Thomson set out for Singapore, where he opened a studio and established himself as a professional portrait photographer. Meanwhile, he also became increasingly interested in the local culture and people. From Singapore he travelled into Malaya and Sumatra and took a number of photographs of local landscapes and people. In 1866, after moving to Bangkok, he made his first photographic expedition into Cambodia and Indo-China (Vietnam). His photographs of Cambodia and Siam (Thailand) established him as a serious travel photographer, and gained himmembership of both the Ethnographic Society of London and the RoyalGeographic Society.

During his second trip to Asia, Thomson based himself at the thriving British Crown Colony of Hong Kong in 1868. There he studied Chinese and Chinese culture while making a few short trips into Guangdong. Thomson’s major China expedition began in 1870. For two years he travelled extensively from Guangdong to Fujian, and then to eastern and northern China, including the imperial capital Beijing, before heading down to the River Yangtse, altogether covering nearly 5000 miles. In China, Thomson excelled as a photographer in quality,depth and breadth, and also in artistic sensibility. The experience hegained, and the techniques he developed, on the streets of Beijing laidthe foundation for his Street Life in London, compiled five yearslater. This established him as the pioneer of photojournalism and oneof the most influential photographers of his generation.

After returning to Britain, Thomson took up an active role informing the public about China. Besides giving illustrated presentations, he continuously published photographic and written works on China. He sensed that a profound transformation was taking place in the world, and ‘through the agency of steam and telegraphy, [China] is being brought day by day into closer relationship with ourselves … China cannot much longer lie undisturbed in statii quo.’ Undoubtedly his photographs contributed greatly to 19th-century Europe’s view of Asiaand filled the visual gap between East and West. He became known as‘China’ Thomson.

Yet what marked Thomson’s work out was not simply the massive amount of visual information he offered. His uniqueness was his zeal to present a faithful and precise, though not always agreeable, account of China and Chinese people. He wanted his audiences to witness China’s floods, famines, pestilences and civil wars; but even more so, he wanted share them the human aspect of life in China. He wanted his work to transcend that of the casual illustration of idiosyncratic types, to portray human beings as individuals full of peculiarities.

In 1920, Thomson decided to sell his 650 glass negatives, including those of China, to the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, but died before the transaction could be completed. Eventually Henry Solomon Wellcome (1853–1936), the American-born pharmacist and philanthropist, bought the negatives from Thomson’s heirs.

Although Wellcome’s museum had a medical and historical theme, Wellcome was a cosmopolitan, and, in some aspects, compulsive collector. He also had an anthropological approach to history, and his ultimate aim was to create a Museum of Man, although this dream was never realised. After his death much of his collection, including Thomson’s negatives in three wooden crates, ended up in the Wellcome Library in London, where they remain today.

The 150 images included in this exhibition are all from the Wellcome Library’s collection. While a few images were reproduced in Thomson’s published works and shown in exhibitions, the great majority of his photographs have never been exhibited. Take, for example, the stereoscopes. Each of these negatives comprises two photographs taken from slightly different angles. Previously, due to the cost of photo-publishing, only one of the exposures was printed.

The images included for this exhibition have been chosen mainly for their locations, namely those of Beijing, Guangdong and Fujian. The photographs Thomson took in Fujian and Guangdong are his strongest series of landscapes. But they also show his sensitivity. The human aspect of his work was even more evident in his photos of the poor. In Guangdong and Fujian, he became increasingly concerned with the lives and conditions of ordinary Chinese. As he travelled further, this concern developed. In the imperial capital of Beijing, Thomson not onlydisplayed his talent as professional portrait photographer, his streetscenes of Beijing showed that he was ahead of his time. These deeplymoving images are sometimes compared to street photographs by the great20th-century masters like Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson orRobert Doisneau. But more importantly, they will remain as incrediblyvaluable historical material for anyone wishing to understand19th-century China and its people in their struggle to become modern.

Further information on John Thomson can be found here :

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In conjunction with, and taking place at, The Photographers’ Gallery, this short course will introduce some of the key movements, developments and figures in photography in Britain, from the beginnings to the present day.What is the course about?This course examines the origins of photography starting from before its formal invention in the 1820s up to the present.Technical developments to the present day.What photography has been used for in the past and today, and how that was influenced by technical, social, cultural and aesthetic developments.The key themes, movements and people who have become prominent, and those conventional history have almost forgotten.What topics will be covered?Up to 1900The camera obscura. Niepce. Fox Talbot, the Pencil of Nature and the Calotype. Hill and Adamson. Daguerre and the Daguerreotype. Bayard. The Wet Collodion Era. Julia Margaret Cameron. Nadar. Fenton and the Crimea war. Carte de Visite. Gustav le Gray. Rejlander. Robinson. John Thompson. Mathew Brady and the American Civil War. James Clark Maxwell and colour photography. Gelatin dry plates. Film and the dawn of ‘snapshot’ photography. Landscape. Portaiture. Foreign Travel. Documentary. Jacob Riis. Pictorialism.1900 onThe Autochrome. Colour Photography. 35mm PhotographyAlbert Kahn. Atget.Stieglitz and Steichen . Gallery 291.Strand. Walker Evans and the Farm Security Admi9nistration. Dorothea Lange. Lewis Hine.Ansel Adams. Edward Western The f64 Group. Man Ray.Magazines – Picture Post and Life.Eugene Smith. Cartier Bresson. Brassai.1945 onFilm – colour and monochrome developments. The dawn of the digital age.Photojournalism. Fine Art Photography. Scientific and Social uses.Dates: 28/06/10 - 26/07/10Day(s): MonDuration: 5 weeksTime: 18:30 - 20:00Fee: £77 ?Further info:
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