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12200977088?profile=originalDr Gil Pasternak has been appointed Senior Research Fellow in Photographic History at De Montfort University. He was previously at the University of Huddersfield. 

Dr Gil Pasternak studied for his Ph.D. in the History of Art Department at University College London (UCL), specialising in the theory and history of photography in the context of fine art, visual and material cultures. His published research work looks into the role photography plays in the formation of Middle-Eastern cultural historical topoi. His investigations consider the photographic apparatus within contexts such as the construction of physical and human landscapes, the geographical and political imagination, the domestication of militarism, private acts of political protest, and social rituals of mourning and nationalism.

Read more about his interests at:

Gil can be contacted by email at:

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12200979474?profile=originalThis book is the first extensive survey of early Chinese photographers in any language. It is profusely illustrated with more than 400 photographs, many of which are published here for the first time, including a fine selection of Foochow landscapes from the studios of Lai Fong, China’s leading photographer during this period, and Tung Hing.

Early chapters introduce the historical milieu from which the earliest Chinese photographers emerged and illuminate the beginnings of photography in China and contemporary Chinese reactions to its introduction. Early Chinese commercial photography – both portrait and landscape – are also discussed with reference to similar genres in a more international context. Individual chapters are devoted to Chinese photographers in Peking, Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, Foochow, Amoy, Hankow, Tientsin and other ports, Macau and Formosa. These are followed by a series of appendices: writings on photography in China by John Thomson and Isaac Taylor Headland and an invaluable guide to the identification of photographs from the Afong Studio. It concludes with an extensive bibliography, general and regional chronologies, and a biographical index. Combining existing knowledge of the subject with a mass of new research material, this major work also introduces and identifies the work of a number of previously forgotten or overlooked Chinese masters. It includes the work of: Chow Kwa (Su Sanxin), Hing Qua John & Co., Jiu San & E Fong, Kai Sack, Kung Tai, Lai Chong, Lai Fong, Liang Shitai (See Tay), Luo Yuanyou, Man Foc, Pow Kee, Pun Lun, Sang Cheong, Tung Hing, Wo Cheong, Ye Chung and many others.

This book completes a three-volume series on the photographic history of China until the late 19th century and will prompt a re-evaluation and heightened appreciation of these early Chinese photographers.

ISBN: 978-0-9563012-4-6

Available from Quaritch:

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12200976686?profile=originalThis project took off in Shawbost when a ‘treasure chest of pre-WW1 glass negatives were discovered in the barn of a local lady, now sadly deceased. The negatives are the work of Dr Norman Morrison (1869-1949), who was born and raised in Shawbost.  A successful author publishing works on local history, folklore, adder snakes, and politics. He is best known as a co-founder of the Scottish Police Federation having been a serving police officer for many years.

Public workshops on this 19th century wet plate photography will be held on the morning and afternoon of Monday 15 July 2013 led by photographer David Gillanders. Further details can be found here.

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12200973695?profile=originalAn iconic Swansea building where a pioneering scientist took one of the earliest ever photos of the moon will soon be brought back to life. Swansea Council has signed a 25-year lease with the Penllergare Trust for the 19th Century equatorial observatory and laboratory at Penllergare Valley Woods that once formed a local hub for stargazing.

The historic building, also a Scheduled Ancient Monument, was built in 1846 and went on to house a telescope for John Dillwyn Llewelyn, a groundbreaking photographer and astronomer of the period. From the observatory, John and his daughter, Thereza, would experiment by taking photographs of the moon.

Cllr Nick Bradley, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “We signed an agreement with the Penllergare Trust last month to work in closer partnership than ever with them to protect, restore and regenerate the natural and cultural landscape of the stunning Penllergare Valley Woods. The lease agreement for the observatory building there shows considerable progress has already been made for the benefit of the thousands of people who visit the woods every year.

12200974476?profile=original“The observatory building has a rich and fascinating history and its restoration forms part of what’s going to be an exciting future for this much-loved beauty spot.”

A £2.9 million restoration project is currently underway at Penllergare Valley Woods with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Parks for People programme. Swansea Council has contributed a grant towards the observatory works.

The observatory will be repaired and restored over the next 18 months. It will also be made accessible along with other attractions in the woods like the terrace gardens, the upper lake, the waterfall and an old stone bridge known as the Llewelyn bridge.

Terry Jones, Chairman of the Penllergare Trust, said: “The observatory is the scientific legacy of John Dillwyn Llewelyn. It has survived over half a century of neglect along with the picturesque designed landscape garden in the valley below. We’re looking forward to bringing this nationally important historic structure back into good condition and conserving it for public benefit.”

A new woodland car park and kiosk is also being constructed that’s due for completion this summer. A micro hydro turbine will be installed to generate electricity and ensure a sustainable future for the Valley Woods.

The Penllergare estate was at the height of its prosperity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its creator, John Dillwyn Llewellyn, was known for his scientific experiments, pioneering photography (he was a founder member of the Photographic Society, later Royal), landscape design and horticulture.

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12200972868?profile=originalA Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography will be shown at the J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, from 4 February-8 June 2014. The exhibition has been curated by Associate Curator, Anne Lyden and the accompanying book includes essays from Sophie Gordon and Jennifer Green-Lewis. 

In 1839, just two years after Victoria became queen of Great Britain and Ireland, the medium of photography was announced to the world. This exhibition explores the relationship between the new art and the young queen, whose passion for collecting photographs began in the 1840s and whose photographic image became synonymous with an entire age.

With important loans from The Royal Collection shown alongside masterpieces from the Getty Museum, the exhibition displays rare daguerreotypes, private portraits of the Royal Family, and a selection of prints by early masters such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron.

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12200943683?profile=originalDe Montfort University is pleased to announce the availability of one Wilson Fellowship for its MA in Photographic History and Practice. The Fellowship offers £5,000 toward the defrayal of tuition and other costs related to the MA, and is open to all students UK, EU and International. To apply for the Wilson Fellowship, please submit your cv and a proposal outlining your MA thesis topic, in English, to the Admissions Committee by 26 July. This proposal should be no longer than 4,000 words. For applications to the MA, please contact Student Recruitment at the Faculty of Art and Design at or apply online at For questions about the MA programme or the Wilson Fellowship please contact Programme Leader, Dr Kelley Wilder at 

The Taylor Bursary in Photographic History. Call for Applications. De Montfort University is pleased to announce the availability of one Taylor Bursary for its MA in Photographic History and Practice. The Bursary offers £5,000 toward the defrayal of tuition and other costs related to the MA, and is open to all students UK, EU and International. To apply for the Taylor Bursary, please submit your cv and a proposal outlining your MA thesis topic, in English, to the Admissions Committee by 26 July. This proposal should be no longer than 4,000 words. For applications to the MA, please contact Student Recruitment at the Faculty of Art and Design at or apply online at For questions about the MA programme or the Wilson Fellowship please contact Programme Leader, Dr Kelley Wilder at

The Wilson Fellowship and Taylor Bursary will be awarded to applicants who will contribute significantly to the field of photographic history. All applications will be considered for both awards.

The MA in Photographic History and Practice is the first course of its kind in the UK, taking as it does the social and material history of photography at its centre. It lays the foundations for understanding the scope of photographic history and provides the tools to carry out the independent research in this larger context, working in particular from primary source material. You will work with public and  private collections throughout Britain, handling photographic material, learning analogue photographic processes, writing history from objects in collections, comparing historical photographic movements, and debating the canon of photographic history. You also learn about digital preservation and access issues through practical design projects involving website and database design. Research Methods are a core component, providing students with essential handling, writing, digitising and presentation skills needed for MA and Research level work, as well as jobs in the field. For further details on the course and application process, please see a course description at our web pages.


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12200971657?profile=originalIn a 2½ hour session today of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee  at the Palace of Westminster on the ‘Future of the Science Group’, Ed Vaizey, under-secretary of state for Culture, Communications and Creative Industry and Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group (SMG) both unambiguously stated that Bradford’s National Media Museum would not be closed.

The session also highlighted the following key points:

  • The National Media Museum will  not be closed, but had been the potential closure target within the SMG
  • Ed Vaizey: NMeM ‘closure is not an option’ but ‘no change is not an option’
  • Ian Blatchford: ‘delighted’ to confirm NMeM will not close and that its future is secure. ‘Museums are not shutting’
  • No ‘rush to action’ before 2015/16
  • Introducing admission charges was not an option
  • Possible change of name away from National Media Museum
  • Imax and the cinema to be run as commercial ventures
  • A key temporary exhibition space to be restored to the NMeM
  • NMeM to have a greater focus on science and technology
  • New partnerships with local authorities, and science universities and colleges
  • Media Space key to driving visitors to Bradford

Update: The evidence from the meeting is now available here

During the session chaired by John Whittingdale MP, the two Bradford MPs Gerry Sutcliffe and Philip Davies and Manchester MP John Leech led the questions which were put to Vaizey, Blatchford and the heads of Bradford, York and Manchester city councils all of which had been actively campaigning on behalf of the museums in their areas.


Ed Vaizey

John Whittingdale started the session by asking Vaizey about the settlement that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport had secured from the Treasury in the current spending round which would come in 2015-16. Vaizey commented that the minister, Maria Miller, had got a good settlement of 5 per cent for the national museums which he stated gave some comfort and provided the opportunity for them to continue their work. This was coupled with a ‘package of freedoms’ designed to loosen the financial restrictions the museums operated under.

Gerry Sutcliffe questioned Vaizey on the media furore after a meeting held on 23 April between Vaizey and Ian Blatchford to specifically discuss the National Media Museum. Vaizey felt that the settlement offered the opportunity to ‘reboot’ the NMeM and regretted the three weeks of speculation which had caused widespread concern. He reiterated that he saw no North-South divided and regretted that the perception existed. He stated that the museums outside of London were ‘equally important’.

He stated that he would be prepared to act to facilitate a meeting in Bradford with key stakeholders keen to support the NMeM.

Philip Davies asked Vaizey about Blatchford’s quote wanting three world class museums and not four mediocre museums. Vaizey replied that his own ambition was to have four world class museums, but he expected the leaders of museums to take tough decisions. He backed Blatchford as an ‘excellent director of the Science Museum’ and was clear that ‘we can turnaround Bradford’ and he saw all four museums in the SMG as ‘world class’.

Asked why visitor numbers at the NMeM had dropped he said that ‘we need to look at the offer’ and stated that the Imax cinema should be run as a commercial cinema and the museum needed to ‘ensure that the collection engages’ particularly with young people. Its fundraising approach also needed to change. The suggestion of closure of the NMeM had been a wakeup call and he had been ‘overwhelmed’ by support for the NMeM. He emphasised that closure ‘is not an option’ and that the future of the museum was secure but ‘no change is not an option’.  Vaizey confirmed that he was talking with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as a potential partner to help make things work better and to support the science side of the SMG.


Ian Blatchford

Ian Blatchford faced a stronger grilling and Blatchford answered the initial questions shakily before gaining confidence.  Philip Davies started the questioning by asking about his quote which suggested that one museum in the SMG might close.  Blatchford claimed that the quote had been based on a possible 10 per cent funding reduction and not at the actual 5 per cent agreed. His concern would have been that cuts at the higher level would have degraded all museums and would have reduced visitor numbers, the morale of staff and volunteers and impacted on fundraising as donors generally invest in success.

Asked about the decline in the NMeM’s visitor numbers he cited a number of factors which had impacted these such as the building work in the city centre, the loss of novelty of Imax and he called the change of name from National Museum of Photography, Film and Television to National Media Museum, a mistake which he felt did not clearly tell visitors about the museum’s content. He emphasised that visitor number were not the sole measure of the success of the museum.

Asked directly about which museum had been considered dispensable he confirmed that the SMG Board had its greatest attention focused on the National Media Museum. He said that when it had first opened the NMeM had a clear purpose and over time this had become less distinct. It was now to be focused much more on science and technology, which would ally it more closely with other museums in the SMG.

Blatchford denied that his quote and interview had been a flag-waving exercise to secure a better settlement. He had met with Vaizey directly to discuss the NMeM specifically so as not to affect staff and volunteers and to work out how to ‘reshape’ the museum. Details had been leaked which had generated a national campaign to save the museums in the Group. The £120,000 spent earlier this year on the new NMeM café had been proceeded with, not to have done so would have affected staff morale as staff were aware of the plan.

The future plan now that the 2015/16 funding was known was to explore all options with the minster and local authorities but there would be ‘no rush to action’.

Davies asked Blatchford to unequivocally confirm that the NMeM would not be closing and that its future is secure. Blatchford stated that he was ‘delighted to do so’.  He said that ‘museums are not shutting’.

Gerry Sutcliffe questioned further. Blatchford stated that there was now an ‘extraordinary’ period of opportunity and the end result would be four fantastic museums which would work as a group. Blatchford denied that there had been a period of deliberate managed decline at the NMeM. After the departure of the previous Director [Colin Philpott] he had asked the Science Museum deputy director [Heather Mayfield] run the museum. She was a passionate supporter of the NMeM and had a science background. Media Space would be a showcase for the NMeM and would help drive visitors to Bradford.

Questioned about the low number of overseas visitors to the NMeM of 8,000 against nearer 50,000 to other the other northern museums Blatchford described this as a ‘challenge’. More work was needed on getting visitors to Bradford city as well as to the nearby attractions of Haworth, Ilkley and Saltaire. The new City Park and Unesco City of Film would help with this.

John Leech asked Blatchford what lessons could be learned from elsewhere in the Group. Blatchford stated that a key metric was the net cost of the museum against visitor numbers and MOSI was the best performer with Bradford 20-30 per cent more expensive. Commercial partnerships would be explored to generate more income. Fundraising as a Group would help negate London-centric philanthropy and would ensure funds could be diverted to the northern museums.

With regard to programming Blatchford stated that the Group was looking to ‘long term serious programming’ rather than exhibitions that gave short term gain. This approach would be consistent across the SMG. In the context of the NMeM there was a need to restore a key temporary exhibition space which the museum was ‘severely lacking’.


City Council heads

Tony Reeves, Chief Executive of the city of Bradford, stated that the NMeM was ‘absolutely vital to the city’ and it was jewel in the crown of the city centre. The half-million visitors were ‘really important’ to the city. He confirmed that the city provided the museum buildings on two leases due to end in 2087 and 2097 on a peppercorn rent but he said that the city’s own government grant was being cut so any direct funding was unlikely. But, the museum’s presence supported the city’s key objectives of regeneration, education attainments and improving skills and it might secure support as part of these aims. Better marketing of the city and its attractions was needed.

Gerry Sutcliffe, asked Reeves about 2012 changes at the museum. Reeves stated that the museum Advisory Board had not been told in advance of management changes and had challenged Blatchford and the then chair Michael Wilson about this. The Board had been reassured that the purpose had been to address a ‘lack of confidence in the curatorial direction of the museum’. Media Space was seen as a way of promoting the Bradford museum and the Board had been ‘satisfied’ with the response it received.  The move out of the museum of the BBC studio had been a decision for the BBC and not related to any ‘managed decline’.

Reeves stated that the decline in visitor numbers was in part that the city did not offer enough of an attraction and that the bulk of overseas visitors were visiting family. The museum needed to reengage with local people which would bring overseas visitors in to the museum.

Reeves said that recent weeks had been a ‘difficult and traumatic experience’ but there were lots of positives. The response from the public had been phenomenal both locally and internationally and had shaken people out of the complacency that the museum would always be there. He felt that there was an opportunity for a fresh look at the NMeM by the SMG and to engage with the city council and local colleges.


Where now?

The SMG will work through the implications of the 5 per cent funding cut and an announcement regarding this will be made in the autumn. For the National Media Museum, the future is secure but it will have to work hard to boost visitor numbers, increase external funding and commercial revenue. The museum will focus more on science and technology in line with the rest of the SMG which, for a museum that has significant art photography holdings, may prove challenging. Partnerships with the local authority, university and college will reinforce the new focus.  

The Select Committee meeting was attended by Dr Michael Pritchard and Colin Ford CBE. There were no representatives from the photographic press or wider photographic community. 

Reported by Dr Michael Pritchard

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