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Minna Keene photographs return to Europe

12201118084?profile=originalStephen Bulger Gallery is pleased to be exhibiting a selection of vintage carbon prints by Minna Keene (b. 5 April 1861, Arolsen, Germany; d. November 1943, Oakville, Canada) at Paris Photo in booth A5.

Minna Keene, née Bergman, lived in Great Britain, South Africa, and Canada. She emigrated to the United Kingdom in approximately 1880 to become a Governess in Scarborough. While in Scarborough, she met Caleb Keene (b. 1862) a “decorator's apprentice”, who she married in Chelsea, London, in 1887. Caleb Keene was a noted painter and brother of the landscape painter cum “photographic artist” Elmer Ezra Keene (1853–1929). Minna decided to experiment with photography while recovering from a toothache, and eventually became a member of the London Salon of Photography, a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (1908), and a nominee for membership in the Linked Ring (1909), although the society disbanded before it could conduct a vote to admit her.

Minna’s first photographic work was of plant life, for which she made exposures during different stages of growth. Later, she made a successful series of ornithological photographs that were illustrated in English textbooks which remained in use over several decades. Her first mention in photographic literature occurred in the late 1890s while living in Bristol, UK, by submitting to exhibitions and earning recognition in the art journal the Studio.

In 1903 Minna emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, where her husband opened a showroom. During this period she made studies of Boer life in South Africa while operating an active photography studio and raising two children. She exhibited her photographs of Boer life at the Lyceum Club, London, in April 1907, which was favourably reviewed by the British Journal of Photography and Amateur Photographer. In 1909 this work was included in the “Pictorial Photographs by Colonial Workers” exhibition at the Amateur Photographer’s Little Gallery in London. In 1910 Minna exhibited in the Fifty-fifth Annual Exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, and in each year until 1929. In 1911 her photograph of her daughter Violet, entitled Pomegranates, was awarded Picture of the Year at the London Photographic Salon.

In 1913 the Keene family moved to Canada, first settling in Montréal, Québec, with Minna practising as a professional photographic portraitist. She was commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway to photograph the Rockies in 1914 and spent several months in Western Canada. In 1919 the family moved to Toronto, Ontario, and opened a studio, and in 1921 moved to Oakville, Ontario.

In 1926, Minna was featured in a Maclean’s magazine article that mentions the highlights of her career and enthuses about her being a “home lover!”. In the 1930s she continued to exhibit internationally and was assisted in the studio by her daughter Violet, who eventually succeeded her and became a photographer in demand at the Eaton’s photography studio in Toronto.


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12201115701?profile=originalAs part of the National Museum Cardiff's Photography Season 2019-20 three new exhibitions have opened presenting work by four of the most influential artists/photographers in the history of the medium: August Sander, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Martin Parr. The exhibitions predominantly comprise loaned photographs, a number of which have never been exhibited before, and all of which will be displayed for the first time in Wales. They continue to 1 March 2020.

  • ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander presents over eighty photographs by August Sander (1876-1964), one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. The photographs are drawn from Sander’s monumental project People of the Twentieth Century, which classifies individuals and groups of people according to profession and social class. The exhibition is drawn from a major collection of over 170 modern prints, produced from the original plates by August Sander’s grandson, Gerd Sander and placed on long loan to ARTIST ROOMS.

  • Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions brings together 225 photographs by two of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. For over 50 years the Becher’s collaborated on a project to document industrial structures across Europe and the USA. Their photographic inventory included winding towers, blast furnaces, cooling towers, gasometers, grain elevators, water towers and lime kilns. In 1965 the Becher’s made their first visit to Wales and returned in 1966 after receiving a British Council Fellowship. Based at a campsite in Glynneath, they explored the south Wales valleys and made an extensive series of photographs that now stand as monuments to a lost world of labour that were once central to the social fabric of industrial communities.

  • Martin Parr in Wales. Martin Parr is one of the most influential and prolific photographers working today. He has always been drawn to Wales, having lived just over the border in nearby Bristol for thirty years. Throughout that time, he has undertaken several editorial and cultural commissions, covering subjects from working men’s clubs to coal mining. This exhibition brings together, for the first time, works that explore different aspects of Welsh life and culture, from male voice choirs and national sports to food, festivals and the seaside.

See more here:

Image: Bernd and Hilla Becher: Blaenserchan Colliery, Pontypool, South Wales, GB, 1966
© Estate Bernd & Hilla Becher, represented by Max Becher, courtesy Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – Bernd und Hilla Becher Archive, Cologne, 2019

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12201121898?profile=originalA major exhibition of prints by the renowned photomontage artist John Heartfield opens at Four Corners Gallery this Autumn. 33 of Heartfield’s scathingly satirical artworks against war and fascism will be on display, bringing his inspiring imagery to a new generation.

This set of anti-Nazi photomontage posters was recently rediscovered in its original crumbling box in the Special Collections & Archives at Liverpool John Moores University. The exhibition will also display material produced by Heartfield during his time as a refugee in England between 1938 and 1950, alongside work by contemporary artists inspired by his legacy.

A pioneer of German agitprop and an early member of the Berlin Dada group, Heartfield is known as the inventor of political photomontage. Armed with scissors, paste and acerbic wit, he used art as a political weapon. Risking his life under Hitler’s Third Reich, Heartfield subverted Nazi imagery to reveal the hypocrisy, greed and political threats of 1930s Germany.

80 years after the outbreak of World War Two, Heartfield’s work foregrounds the need for artistic agitation in challenging times. His striking photomontages offer inspiration in our own era of rising far-right politics, racism and the blurring of fact and fake news.

12201123090?profile=originalHEARTFIELD: ONE MAN’S WAR is a highlight of Insiders/Outsiders Festival, which celebrates the contribution of refugees from Nazi Europe to British culture. The exhibition is curated by Four Corners and Professor John Hyatt, Director of The Institute of Art and Technology, Liverpool John Moores University. Monica Bohm-Duchen, Creative Director, Insiders/Outsiders Festival said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that the Insiders/Outsiders Festival includes this important exhibition. While Heartfield is a significant international figure of continuing relevance, few people realise that he came to the UK as a refugee, intent on continuing his fight against fascism on these shores.’

John Hyatt, Liverpool John Moores University said: ‘Unforgettable juxtapositions, visual collisions, biting wit, and the subverted languages of advertising, propaganda and iconography create fissures in the construction of modernity through which Heartfield shines the light of truth to shrivel and shame the occult darkness of populism, fascism and lies. These posters are as vital today as they were when Heartfield’s glue was still wet.’

Sabine Unamun, Director, Visual Arts, London, Arts Council England said: ‘We have awarded funding to Four Corners for their Heartfield/One Man’s War exhibition, to showcase the recently rediscovered prints in London for the first time, and share Heartfield’s deep belief that art should effect social change’.

1 November 2019 – 1 February 2020,
Tues-Sat: 11.00 - 18.00, Thurs 11.00 - 20.00
Admission free.
Four Corners Gallery
121 Roman Road, London E2 0QN. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green, Central Line
A programme of talks, tours and workshops accompanies the exhibition.

John Heartfield, The Hand Has 5 Fingers / With 5 You Seize the Enemy! / Vote List 5 /
Communist Party!, 1928
John Heartfield, The Old Slogan in the “new” Reich: Blood and Iron, 1934
© The Heartfield Community of Heirs/DACS 2019

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12201114898?profile=originalThe programme for this conference at the V&A Museum has been announced. How do photographs construct meanings in museums? Why are some photographs collected as ‘significant’ and others, of historical value, not Bringing together new work on institutional ‘photographic cultures’, this conference explores the dynamics and significance of such questions across analogue and digital media, and the formative role of photographic practices in articulating the values and assumptions of museums and galleries.

PROGRAMME (provisional)

Day 1: Friday 6th December

10.00 Registration

Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture theatre


10.15. Brief welcome: Elizabeth Edwards

Public Lecture  Geoff Belknap (National Science and Media Museum). (Chair: Martin Barnes)

Redefining Photographic Collections: Institutional and Photographic Practices


11.45 Conference Welcome: Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A) and Elizabeth Edwards

12.00. Session 1. NON-COLLECTIONS – MUSEUM DISLAYS.  (Chair: Marta Weiss)

Christina Riggs (University of Durham), The Archive on Display: Photographs in the 1972 ‘Treasures of Tutankhamun’ Exhibition.

Angus Patterson (V&A) Two Dimensions Among Three: The Role of Photographs in the V&A's Refurbished Cast Courts.

13.00. Lunch break (not provided)

13.45. Session 2.   NON-COLLECTIONS – information Banks  (Chair: tbc)

Ella Ravilious (V&A/ De Montfort University). Studies from Life

Lucy Bayley (Tate Britain) Tricky Boundaries: collection, archive or gallery records?

14.45. Session 3.  COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT AND ITS DEPOSITS   (Chair: Joan Schwartz)

Kate Hay (V&A) Revitalising research: the fall and rise of the furniture image collection.  

Petra Trnkova (Art Institute, Prague) Familial Relationships of Photographic Doubles

Erika Lederman, (V&A/De Montfort University) Isabel Agnes Cowper, Official Museum Photographer:  Her Practice, Her Work, and Afterlives

16.15 Coffee Break

16.45   Session 4.  MATERIAL INSISTENCES Chair: tbc

Pip Laureston (Tate London / Maastricht University) Finding Photography: Networks of material, skill and technology in contemporary art photography

Simon Fleury, (V&A Conservation/Birmingham City University). Condition report: mapping the museum-object encounter.

17.45 Keynote.  David Odo (Harvard Art Museums):  The Shape of the Collection:  The case of ‘Art’ Photographs of Japan in an ‘Ethnographic’ Archive.   (Chair: Elizabeth Edwards)

18.45  End of day 1

Day 2 : Saturday 7th December

10.00 Registration  and coffee

10.15 Keynote   Costanza Caraffa (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz) (Chair: Elizabeth Edwards)

 “The red dot. Archival transformations and the value of photographic objects.

11.15 Session 1.  DIGITAL ECOSYSTEMS (Chair: Simon Fleury)

Kathy Clough  (University of Newcastle)  Digital lenses on analogue collections - the Maurice Broomfield Archive at the V&A 

Adam Koszary (former Programme Manager and Digital Lead at The MERL University of Reading).  Absolute units and virality: using photographic collections in the internet age

Catherine Troiano (National Trust/ De Montfort University).  Computations and Complications: Value systems of institutional photography

12.45. Lunch break (not provided)

13.30 Session 2. THE POLITICS OF EMERGING COLLECTIONS. 1   Chair: tbc

Chris Morton (University of Oxford). Objects, assets, surrogates: non-collections in cross-cultural curation at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Sigrid Lien (University of Bergen). The Institutional Afterlives of Photographs of Sámi Peoples

14.30 Session 3 THE POLITICS OF EMERGING COLLECTIONS. 2  (Chair: James Ryan)

Margaret Hillenbrand (University of Oxford). Don’t Look Now: The Nanjing Massacre and its Photographic Afterlives 

Naluwembe Binaise (University College London) – Framing the past in Nigeria: the visibility of the photographic archive.

15.50 Coffee Break


Elizabeth Edwards (Chair); Martin Barnes, Geoff Belknap; Costanza Caraffa; David Odo; Joan Schwartz.

16.45. Closing Remarks

17.00. End

The conference is organised by the V&A Research Institute (VARI) and generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in conjunction with research strands led by VARI  Mellon Visiting Professor Elizabeth Edwards.

Final version of the programme will be uploaded nearer the time of the conference itself.

The Institutional Lives of Photographs.
V&A; December 6-7 2019.

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12201113693?profile=originalThe V&A has unveiled a major new photography commission by internationally-acclaimed artist Valérie Belin. Known for her monumental photographs exploring artifice, identify and representation, Belin has found inspiration in the V&A’s photographs collection for her new series Reflection. Ten of Belin’s resulting 173 x 130cm pigment prints are on display in the V&A Photography Centre.

Belin was drawn to the street photography of Eugène Atget (1857-1927), Walker Evans (1903-75) and Lee Friedlander (b. 1934), alongside commercial pictures of shopfront window displays by New York’s Worsinger Window Service and works by graphic designer, Robert Brownjohn (1920-70). Through this new series, Belin examines the visual vernacular of the street while emphasising illusionary effects created by layered reflections. Reflection continues her ongoing enquiries into the tension between the real and the imaginary, interrogating stereotypes, while furthering her interest in the visual language of commerce and typography.

As Belin delved further into the V&A’s collection of over 800,000 photographs, it was Brownjohn’s images of 1960s London, taken in the wake of post war-austerity, that resonated most. Brownjohn used his images as source material for his design process, and for Reflection, Belin took a similar approach. Revisiting the thousands of photographs she’d made of streets and shopfronts in American cities over the last three decades, Belin used her signature superimposition process to build up layers of imagery. Drawing on additional visual references from graphic novels, magazines and film noir, the resulting dream-like photographs comprise rich, textural layers, fragmented narratives and dynamic juxtapositions conjuring themes of reflection, depth, representation, artifice and identity – drivers behind Belin’s conceptual approach.

Valérie Belin said: “The V&A is a treasure trove filled with amazing art, graphic design, fashion and photography. I go there when I’m between series to stimulate my gaze and see where I go next. The motif of the window recurs throughout my work; as a place of representation, fantasy and glamour it speaks to the line between artifice and reality. To me, the V&A is a big window display, so the shop window motif felt fitting for this commission. We live in a world where superimposition is part of our basic human condition. We are constantly dealing with different types of information, fielding multiple things at once. These photographs are like a broken mirror - perhaps they reflect that it’s easy to lose ourselves in the atmosphere generated by mass consumption. When encountering my works, I want viewers to question what it is they are looking at, and maybe challenge their way of seeing the world too.”

Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs, V&A, said: “Valérie Belin has a unique vision. Through her experiments in digital post-production she injects her photographs with a sense of fantasy and eerie surrealism that challenges viewers to question their perspectives on the world. By applying her creative vision to the V&A’s photographs collection, Belin interrogates ideas of seeing and being seen, past and present, light and dark, and transparency and opacity. Her contemporary perspective reimagines pictures from the past, bringing new relevance and meaning to our collections. We’re thrilled to acquire a selection of these pictures from Belin’s evocative new series for our permanent collection, increasing our holdings of such an inventive and influential photographer." 

Valérie Belin / Reflection opens in the V&A Photography Centre on Saturday 19 October 2019 alongside pictures by Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, Robert Brownjohn and the Worsinger Window Service that inspired Belin. The display is accompanied by an illustrated publication with texts by Belin and former V&A Curator of Photographs, Catherine Troiano. Valérie Belin / Reflection is the second in the series of V&A Photography Centre commissions, and follows Thomas Ruff’s Tripe/Ruff series created to celebrate the opening of the V&A Photography Centre in October 2018.

As part of the V&A’s commitment to supporting and spotlighting the work of contemporary practitioners, the museum has acquired a selection of pictures from Belin’s Reflection series through the generous support of the V&A Photographs Acquisition Group. The artist has also donated works from her Still Life (2014) series, which depicts consumer goods in ornate compositions echoing classical vanitas and memento mori paintings, for which she won the illustrious Prix Pictet in 2015.

Valérie Belin / Reflection
V&A Photography Centre, The Sir Elton John and David Furnish Gallery
19 October 2019 – 31 August 2020 | @V_and_A | #vamPhotography

Image: Valérie Belin, Lights on Lexington 2019
Pigment print.  Purchase funded by the V&A Photographs Acquisition Group
© Valérie Belin

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12201117096?profile=originalA highly significant collection of work by pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge is to be brought back to his home town thanks to a partnership between the Royal Borough of Kingston and Kingston University.

The unique material is part of the Victorian photographer’s own personal collection, which he bequeathed to Kingston Museum on his death. It includes 67 of Muybridge’s famous zoopraxiscope discs, which enabled him to create projected moving images, more than 2,000 glass lantern slides which he presented in his extensive international lectures, and 150 collotype prints, a type of printing that preserves fine detail. It forms part of Kingston Museum’s Muybridge Collection, one of the largest worldwide. A selection of the trailblazing photographer’s work is displayed at the museum, but much of the collection is currently stored out of borough. 

Following three years of work, the Council has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University which will see these pieces of Muybridge’s work returned to Kingston, to a specially designed home in the University’s flagship new Town House building. The document was signed by Council Leader Liz Green and Kingston University Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier at the University’s civic showcase event at the town’s Guildhall on Monday night.

Councillor Green said Eadweard Muybridge’s contribution to motion pictures was immeasurable. “It’s wonderful to see one of Kingston’s most famous historical figures celebrated in his home town in this way – he sits at the heart of the borough’s cultural identity and I’m delighted to be able to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the council,” she said.

12201118259?profile=originalProfessor Spier said working with the Council to bring more of Kingston Museum’s Muybridge Collection back to the borough marked the latest milestone in a decade-long collaboration and was a tangible demonstration of the strong relationship between the University and town. “The collection is a jewel in the crown of the borough’s rich cultural heritage. Kingston University is delighted to play its part in helping embed Muybridge in the DNA of Kingston by reuniting the collection he bequeathed to the town, making it more accessible to researchers and residents alike. This collaboration with the Council epitomises exactly what we want our new Town House building to represent – a shared space where both the university and town are enriched,” he said.

The pieces will move to their new home in the University’s Town House next summer. They will sit on the second floor of the new building, in a tailor made archive area with specialist facilities and controlled conditions to preserve the fragile and important artefacts. Hosting the archive at the University would not only give it more visibility, but would also assist the museum’s curators to continue their work to make it more accessible, Professor Spier said. 

Eadweard Muybridge was born in Kingston in 1830, the internationally renowned technological and artistic innovator is best known for his ground breaking work on animal locomotion, in which he used multiple cameras to capture movement in stop-motion photographs. His work is credited as paving the way for cinema and CGI animation. On his death in 1904 he entrusted his personal collection of equipment and prints to Kingston Museum – leaving to the borough a body of work unlike any other in the world.

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12201112464?profile=originalAs part of Photography Scotland’s Season of Photography which runs until the end of November Roddy Simpson, on the eve of the 2019 Robert Louis Stevenson Day, will be talking about the work of American-born twentieth century photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, who helped illustrate a 1954 edition of Stevenson’s book Edinburgh Picturesque Notes with a series of photographs. Taken in 1905, Coburn regarded these photographs as some of his 'very best' work though he always regretted that he never got to meet Stevenson himself, who had died in 1894.

“I consider Edinburgh one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and Robert Louis Stevenson appreciated it as few have done. For over fifty years I have followed lovingly in his footsteps, endeavouring to see it as I thought he saw it, and I hope that he would have approved of what I have done in illustrating his Edinburgh Picturesque Notes.”

Coburn also said: "I never met Stevenson in the flesh. It is one of my great regrets that I came just a little too late to make his portrait, but I have all his books and have read them many times, so that I seem to know him better than some of my other friends. Through his Edinburgh and in his Edinburgh I seem to know him best of all".

This talk will explore Coburn’s admiration for Stevenson through the photographs he produced for the edition of Edinburgh Picturesque Notes and will look at the images and discuss the affinity they have with Stevenson’s prose.

Alvin Langdon Coburn in the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson
Roddy Simpson
Patrick Geddes Centre, Edinburgh
Admission: £10 

12 Nov 2019, 19:00 – 21:00


Image: © Alvin Langdon Coburn: 'A passage between tall lands', also known as 'Weir's Close, Edinburgh', 1905.
Image courtesy Library of Congress

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12201126859?profile=originalBookings are now open for the academic conference -  Light | Sensitive | Media  - which takes place on 1-2 November at the University of West London, St Mary's Road, Ealing, London. 

The fields of photography theory and history have in recent years moved away from the assumption of a break between the analogue and digital image to a more nuanced understanding of both past and contemporary photographic practices, images, and technologies.

Increasingly photography is discussed in relation to other media, to industry and markets and to climate and the environment. At the same time questions of aesthetics and interpretation are recast and understood in terms of sensual, haptic, embodied and everyday encounters with material images.

This conference will examine photography as simultaneously material and immaterial, addressing not only the tangible properties of photographic objects, but also the ecosystems in which they circulate.

We live in and through the photographic, in its physical presence in the world, and in our thought. The conference thus also invites considerations of the ways in which a mode of philosophical thinking can be conceived as photographic or vice versa.

The conference is convened by Professor Michelle Henning (University of Liverpool) and Dr Junko Theresa Mikuriya (University of West London).

Places are limited but affordable (£20 for 2 days) and details including a full list of speakers are at the following link:

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Valleys of the Shadow of Death Today

12201120493?profile=originalAs a follow-on to my last post, members might be interested in seeing how the two different 'Valleys of the Shadow of Death', one taken by Roger Fenton in April 1855 and the other by James Robertson/Felice Beato later in the same year, look today (at least in 2012 when I last visited the Crimea!).

The first colour photograph below shows the site where Fenton took his well known evocative war image of a dirt road covered with expended round shot (see right).  Fenton took two photographs here. Another shows the road empty of round shot. Investigations have revealed that the empty road picture was undoubtedly taken first. This strongly suggests that Fenton and/or his assistant Marcus Sparling arranged the round shot on the road for dramatic effect. I personally have no problem with this as Fenton was first and foremost an artist and had artistic licence. Spent Russian round shot fired from the Redan Bastion and overshooting gun batteries on the British Left Attack before Sevastopol used to gather here.

The second colour photograph below was the location of the photograph taken by Robertson/Beato that was shown in my last post. It is of the Vorontsov (Woronzoff) Ravine and some of its caves, which were used to store ammunition and accommodate a telegraph station. At the time of the Crimean War, the Vorontsov Road from Yalta entered Sebastopol through this ravine and spent Russian round shot fired from the Malakhov Bastion at the British Right Attack before Sevastopol used to collect here. 12201120895?profile=original


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Valleys of the Shadow of Death

12201116066?profile=originalOn the Royal Collection Trust’s website concerning Robertson/Beato's Crimean War image entitled The Valley of the Shadow of Death ( (see right), there is the following description: -

Neither Robertson’s photograph nor Simpson’s lithograph show the same location as Fenton’s image, despite all three works having the same title. The full phrase from Psalm 23 from which the title comes is ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil’. It is reported that the British soldiers gave the ravine its name. The emotive pull of Fenton’s composition is all the more apparent when compared with Robertson’s photograph and Simpson’s lithograph, although the round shot in Simpson’s work links it visually to Fenton’s photograph.

Unfortunately, the RCT showed William Simpson’s watercolour entitled Charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade, 25th October 1854, which took place in Tennyson’s ‘Valley of Death’, to illustrate the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’ and not Simpson’s watercolour entitled Valley of the Shadow of Death - Caves in the Woronzoff Road, behind the Twenty-one Gun Battery, which shows round shot on the road. I hope that the webmaster at RCT can correct this error.

While on the subject and perhaps to add to the confusion, Robertson/Beato also took another photograph entitled, as far as I can tell, The Valley of the Shadow of Death, Woronzoff Road. This is the same ravine as the one shown on the left in The Valley of the Shadow of Death (see above right). It is reproduced below and is remarkable similar in aspect to Simpson’s watercolour entitled Valley of the Shadow of Death - Caves in the Woronzoff Road, behind the Twenty-one Gun Battery. Perhaps this photograph can also be brought into a new RCT discussion.

For those interested, I devoted a chapter in The Crimean War: Then and Now to the differences in location of Fenton’s and Robertson/Beato’s ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’ images. All the above art works mentioned above are discussed and illustrated in the book.


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12201119886?profile=originalHello fellow BPH members. I am the co-founder of an archival project called The Family Museum, which is focused on the history and practice of amateur 'family' photography.

We are launching an exhibition at Swindon Museum & Art Gallery  next week, with a Preview taking place on the afternoon Wednesday 23 October. If any members are local to the area, we would welcome you to join us. One element of the show previously discussed with some members of the BPH network is a set of Edwardian 'Stickyback' portraits taken in a Swindon studio, likely between 1906 and 1915. 

More here:

Auto Memento: Stickyback Photography in Swindon, 1900-1919
23 October 2019 - 4 January 2020
Every day, 11:00 - 16:00
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Bath Road, Swindon, SN1 4BA

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12201120276?profile=originalCartes-de-visite were the first form of affordable mass-produced photography. These images of families and friends, royalty and celebrities of the day were wildly popular during the Victorian era. Queen Victoria herself helped spread the craze by building her own collection. People collected photographs of their families and friends, royalty and celebrities of the day.

Cartomania explores this early photographic phenomenon through the work of pioneering photographers such as the celebrated Aberdonian photographer George Washington Wilson. This fascinating exhibition looks in detail at the collecting craze, explores the social impact of photography, changing fashions and how you can date your own cartes-de-visite.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum
30 November-11 April 2020

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12201119290?profile=originalLondon's History and Theory of Photography Research Centre at Birkbeck has announced its autumn seminar programme. All events are free and open to all. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2019, 6-7:30pm. Room 106, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD.

Andrés Mario Zervigón (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

Fully Visible and Transparent: Zeiss Anastigmat

In 1890, the famous Jena Glass Works of Carl Zeiss released the Anastigmat photographic lens. The innovative device advanced a chapter in optical technology that seemed to have progressed automatically in a predetermined manner since the medium’s origins. The new lens offered a consistent field of focus across the photographic plate and corrected for a number of additional aberrations at lower and higher f-stops. But why exactly had Zeiss developed its expensive mechanism and what drove photographers to buy it? This paper suggests that the consistent focus and varied depth of field that the Anastigmat provided were not in and of themselves the desired goals of the improvements, but that they were instead visible signals of a pictorial model that makers and consumers had been seeking since the public introduction of photography in 1839. The goal was a transparent realism that remained stubbornly external to the medium, an illusionistic standard that had largely been mediated by painting since the renaissance and was now apparently possible in photography as well.

Andrés Mario Zervigón is Professor of the History of Photography at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His scholarship concentrates on the interaction between photographs, film, and fine art, generally focusing on moments in history when these media prove inadequate to their presumed task of representing the visual. Zervigón is author of John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuasion, and the Rise of Avant-Garde Photomontage (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and Photography and Germany (Reaktion Books, 2017). With Tanya Sheehan he edited Photography and Its Origins (Routledge, 2014), with Sabine Kriebel Photography and Doubt (Routledge 2017), and with Donna Gustafson Subjective-Objective: A Century of Social Photography (Zimmerli Musuem/Hirmer Verlag, 2017). His current book project is Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung - The Worker's Illustrated Magazine, 1921-1938: A History of Germany's Other Avant-Garde, for which he received a CASVA Senior Fellowship (2013-14). At Rutgers Zervigón leads The Developing Room, an academic working group that promotes interdisciplinary dialogue on photography’s history, theory and practice.

Monday 9 December 2019, 6-7:30pm. Room 106, 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Charlene Heath (Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, Canada)

To Circulate and Disperse: Jo Spence, Terry Dennett and a Still Moving Archive.

Image: Justine Varga, Overlay, 2016-18.

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12201120094?profile=originalJoin us for an afternoon of discussion and a film screening to mark the opening of the exhibition Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions.

A distinguished panel of experts, chaired by Dr Russell Roberts (co-curator of Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions) and including Max Becher (photographer and son of Bernd and Hilla Becher), Gabriele Conrath-Scholl (Director of Die Photographische Sammlung /SK Stiftung Kultur der Sparkasse KölnBonn) and Marianne Kapfer (director of The Photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher) will discuss the Bechers' work in more detail, and how their time in Wales influenced their practice.

Followed be a special screening of The Photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher (2012) by Marianne Kapfer.

National Museum Cardiff
25 October, 1300-1600

Image:  Bernd and Hilla Becher: Blaenserchan Colliery, Pontypool, South Wales, GB, 1966

© Estate Bernd & Hilla Becher, represented by Max Becher, courtesy Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur – Bernd und Hilla Becher Archive, Cologne, 2019

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12201115666?profile=originalFrom the late 1880s there was a marked increase in the number of British women becoming professional photographers. Drawing on archival documents and photographs in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

This talk examines the dynamics of women photographers’ studios to better understand how they became competitors in a male-dominated industry.

George Mind: 'The fair abode of femininity'
University of Westminster, Harrow Campus
Wednesday, 9 October 2019 from 1330-1400

Image: Lallie Charles, Bea Martin, Rita Martin, circa 1899, copyright National Portrait Gallery

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12201119269?profile=originalAs a follow-on from yesterday’s post, blog readers may be interested in another James Robertson/Felice Beato (see Beato’s portrait right) Crimean War photograph that was taken in the same vicinity as 8 Gun Battery and most likely on the same day. The image in the Royal Collection is entitled The Trenches before the Redan (see below) and its description is: -

Photograph of the trenches in front of the Redan after the fall of Sevastopol. In the foreground there is a grassy hill with several large piles of stones. Trenches can faintly be seen in the valley behind. The British made two unsuccessful attacks on the Redan fortification, a Russian stronghold, during the Siege of Sevastopol. The siege eventually ended on 8th September 1855 when the French captured the nearby Malakoff redoubt, forcing the Russians to abandon the city.


The Trenches before the Redan shows the view north-northwest along the west-facing slope of the Vorontsov Ridge on the British Right Attack. It looks towards the Sevastopol district of Karabelnaya where the military barracks seen in 8-Gun Battery were located. These barracks are visible in the distance on the far left with Sevastopol’s roadstead and the north shore beyond. As in 8 Gun Battery, the Black Sea is on the skyline. The Redan itself is not in view. However, the curtain wall that climbs up the slope to the bastion from the Middle/Karabelnaya Ravine is on the far left to the immediate left of the barracks. The Malahkov bastion is in view in the distance on the far right with its dark-coloured earth walls protecting batteries stretching along its relatively flat summit.

Closer to the camera, the line of the British 3rd Parallel trench line runs along the brow of a ridge on the left as it did in 8 Gun Battery. This trench continues further to the right where it disappears behind a much closer earth wall with embrasures that shows it is a gun battery. Military maps tell us that this is the seven-gun ‘Battery No 14’ on the British 2nd Parallel. This battery merged with the eight-gun ‘Battery No. 9’ to its northeast. Lower down the slope from ‘Battery No 14’ in the centre of the picture is the four-gun ‘Battery No. 13’, the subject of the 8 Gun Battery. Lower down still on the far left is ‘Battery No. 12’, which carried mortars. Between ‘Battery No. 12’ and ‘Battery No.13’, the communication trench also seen in 8 Gun Battery connects the 2nd Parallel with the 3rd Parallel. Even closer to the camera at centre, military maps show us that this trench divides after passing through the 2nd Parallel with the two sections re-joining after a short distance. The course of the divided trench is revealed by the lines of earth walls. The large mound of earth on the right beyond the long pile of stones that stretches up the slope from Robertson’s signature at lower left is associated with ‘Battery No. 7’ which contained two mortars. It was here that Robertson/Beato most likely took 8 Gun Battery.

Again, it is significant what historical information can be gleaned from Crimean War photographs with the aid of military maps and a knowledge of the topography. The section of a French map (see below) shows the location of all the batteries and trenches mentioned above with the red line indicating the probable location of the camera and the direction it was pointing when taking 8 Gun Battery.


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12201112694?profile=originalOne of James Robertson (see portrait right)/Felice Beato’s Crimean War images that has fascinated me is entitled 8 Gun Battery (see below). The description accompanying this photograph on the Royal Collection Trust (RTC) website states:

Photograph of an eight gun battery in front of Sevastopol. A wall created from earth and sandbags runs the breadth of the middle ground. Canons are spaced at intervals behind the wall, some with neat piles of cannonballs beside them. Sevastopol can be seen in the distance, the Russian military barracks at the forefront and the harbour to the right.

The first question I asked myself was ‘why was the image described as an eight gun battery when only four guns behind four embrasures were visible in the battery in the picture’? Surely the image would have been better entitled the 4 Gun Battery?

12201114055?profile=originalChecking contemporary military maps, it quickly became apparent from the background detail in 8 Gun Battery that it was taken looking roughly north-northwest from the British Right Attack on the western slope of the Vorontsov Ridge. When the layout of the trenches in the photograph was compared to maps of the Right Attack, it was discovered that the four guns were in a 4-gun battery known as ‘Battery No. 13’ on the 2nd Parallel trench line. Furthermore, the trench line stretching from right to left in the middle distance was the 3rd Parallel on the British Right Attack. The communication trench joining the 2nd Parallel to the 3rd Parallel is seen on the left of the image. Also, in the left foreground of 8 Gun Battery is a ‘triangle’ of trenches depicted as just 25 metres south-southeast of ‘Battery No. 13’ on maps. This strongly suggested from maps that the photograph was most likely taken from the nearby ‘Battery No. 7’, which carried two 10-inch mortars.

Of great interest is that the position of disturbed earth bank known as ‘the Quarries’ can be clearly seen in 8 Gun Battery above the 3rd Parallel on the far left with a wide and deep trench leading up its slope. This strong point was captured from the Russians by the British on 6 June 1855. Beyond ‘the Quarries’ is the Russian bastion known as the Redan with is curtain wall running down the slope to the right. This is where the four guns in the battery in the foreground of 8 Gun Battery were pointed and was obviously their main target. The Redan was unsuccessfully assaulted twice by the British with great loss of life. The open ground where troops had to charge, some carrying scaling ladders, lies in front of the bastion.

Photographic views of these historically important military positions showing their relationship to each other are not found elsewhere and 8 Gun Battery is therefore a significant image. Also of interest in the photograph is the Central Hill in the city of Sevastopol visible over the Redan. The Church of St Peter and St Paul, which was the subject of my last post to this blog, lies immediately above the curved apex of the salient of the Redan when viewed under high magnification. The Russian military barracks are in the distance on the right of the image with Fort Nicholas to the west of the entrance to the South Harbour directly above the left wing of the first barrack building. Ships are on the roadstead on the far right with the north shore beyond. The Black Sea is on the skyline.

It’s remarkable what can be gleaned from old Crimean War photographs if it is known where they were taken and in which direction. It was also discovered that 8 Gun Battery is the right half of an overlapping panorama with another Robertson/Beato image entitled Valley of the Shadow of Death. The left of the combined panorama picture (below) shows the continuation of the 2nd Parallel to the west-southwest with 'Battery No 12', which carried two 13-inch mortars. The Vorontsov Ravine leading into the flat land at the head of the South Harbour is on the far left.12201114095?profile=originalWhy 8 Gun Battery is incorrectly named is not known. British ‘Battery No 9’, which contained eight guns and was called the ‘8-Gun Battery’ in the historical literature also lay like ‘Battery No. 13’ on the Vornotsov Ridge on the 2nd Parallel of the British Right Attack before Sevastopol. However, its 8-inch guns were aimed at the Malakhov bastion. This battery was about 220 metres to the northeast of ‘Battery No. 13’. It was out of view of 8 Gun Battery on top of the slope to the right.

My interest in photographs taken during the Crimean War led me to spend a total of six weeks over two summers in 2011 and 2012 in Sevastopol and its environs. During this period, I endeavoured to find the positions where the landscape images of Roger Fenton, the Robertson/Beato team and Vladislav Klembovsky were taken and reproduce the scenes as they looked today. The photographic results of my visits were presented in a number of Lulu publications, but most notably in The Crimean War: Then and Now published by Frontline/Pen and Sword Books in 2017. Unfortunately, the slopes seen in 8 Gun Battery and Valley of the Shadow of Death are now completely built over with suburban dachas and a modern view looking towards the site of the Redan from ‘Battery No. 7’ is impossible to take at ground level.

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12201117861?profile=originalPurchased yesterday from rural South Australia , a stereo view from a British Commonwealth neighbour, New Zealand.

Having quickly Googled with the information to hand, one of the subjects may well be Sophia Hinerangi

It's a stereo-photograph, but I would love to know more about the photographer, whose signature I am reading as possibly Josiah Martin, from Auckland.

I have sent a reference request to the National Library of New Zealand today. IMG_2671.jpgIMG_2672.jpg


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12201118887?profile=originalSessions on the History of Stereoscopic Photography is a conference within a conference, hosted by the National Stereoscopic Association at the 46th annual 3D-Con in Tacoma, Washington. 

In the last thirty years, scholarship on stereography has moved from the margins to a more central position in the history of photography and visual culture. A new wave of scholars has emerged with studies that range from stereo’s inception to contemporary virtual and augmented reality. These scholars are creating a language for stereo photography even as it is expanding into nascent vision. Potential topics for paper presentations include: historical and archival discoveries; studies on collecting, p/matronage, and the culture of stereo; the marketing and incorporation of 3D; domesticities and instruments; immersive media, interactivity and performance; 3D cinema and video; the politics of historiographical suppression or distortion; hyper-simulation to surveillance; representations of stereo in popular media; reading stereo perception, as well as others. Papers on topics from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century are invited. Stereoscopic projection is available at the conference.

Deadline for abstracts: March 2, 2020. Send an abstract of 500 words and a biography of 250 words including institutional affiliation. Independent scholars are welcome. Email to: Melody Davis,

Notification of acceptance by May 1, 2020. Digital images will be expected by June 30, 2020.

Sessions on the History of Stereoscopic Photography

14 August 14, 2020 at The National Stereoscopic Association’s 3D-Con

The Hotel Murano, Tacoma, Washington, 11-17 August, 2020

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