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PHRC website upgrades: an update

T12201168064?profile=originalhank you all for your patience. I'd like to give you an update on our website upgrades. We are progressing with getting the right person in post and commencing scoping and work on all the research websites. Please bear in mind that this involves websites and open research in areas other than photographic history. By working together, we have put in place a long term solution that will hopefully lead to stable delivery for many years to come. Currently we expect that by the end of August we should begin bringing sites back online one at a time, and I will announce when each one is up and running.

For those of you who are anxious about moving forward with your research over the summer, several enterprising Talbot scholars have come up with hacks that do give you some results. For instance, although Talbot Correspondence search is not working, a google search for, say, 'Talbot, Brewster, Spectrum' will give you a letter as a result in your search, with the full transcript. This hack unfortunately doesn't seem as effective with the exhibitions websites.

Several of our sites don't seem to be affected at all and are running as normal.

Roger Fenton's Crimean Letterbooks


Members of the Royal Photographic Society

The Journal of Amelina Petit de Billier

are all working well, even if not always perfectly. We will carry out the minor fixes on these websites after re-launching the ones most affected.

Again, I want to thank you all for your patience, and for the many users who have written directly. As soon as we begin relaunching sites, I will post again here.

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12201218871?profile=originalFor over 100 years, when you’d often have to wait a week to see your photos, film processors used photo wallets - cheery illustrated envelopes - to return your pictures to you. They showed what subjects were considered suitable for a snapshot: bright-eyed children, laughing couples, adorable pets and perfect landscapes; they also reinforced prohibitions by what they omitted.

On Thursday 29 June join Annebella Pollen (Professor of Visual and Material Culture at University of Brighton) to discuss her latest book More Than A Snapshot: A Visual History of Photo Wallets. The book charts a century of popular photography in Britain: the birth of a new mass leisure pastime mainly marketed towards women, and the growth of camera ownership after the Second World War. It commemorates a time when you never knew if you had captured a treasured memory or your finger in front of the lens.

More than A Snapshot: A visual history of photo wallets with Annebella Pollen
29 June 2023, doors 1830

Tickets £3 with a complimentary drink or £12 with a copy of the book (and a drink)
Village Books, 10-12 Thorntons Arcade, Leeds, LS1 6LQ
Book here:

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12201232065?profile=originalHundred Heroines has launched the Dorothy Wilding Appreciation Society to create a legacy and nurture the next generation of women photographers from Gloucester. 

It writes...

When we opened Dorothy Wilding: 130 Photographs in March, we had no idea how popular she would be; it’s been great to see an average of 380 visitors a day, with people travelling internationally and from remote parts of the UK specifically to see Dorothy.  We’ve been touched by people’s generosity in donating Dorothy prints and ephemera for the Collection, enthralled by the interesting stories we’ve heard and moved by the pictures we’ve seen of relatives photographed by Dorothy.  We’ll be adding all the stories to the website in due course.
We’re so enthusiastic about Dorothy and her homecoming that we’re making plans for her legacy through a permanent display and archive. In the meantime, we have a few other Dorothy events and initiatives:

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12201233482?profile=originalThe Conway Library contains contains almost one million photographs of world architecture, architectural drawings, sculpture, decorative arts and manuscripts.  It has been constructed over a period of almost a century, though some of the photographs held are considerably older.

This talk provides a focused evaluation of the historiography of the library’s origins, and how and why it was built upon Conway’s original donation.  A wide spectrum of issues and considerations are examined ; the scale and scope of the market for, and availability of, architectural photographs from the time of Conway’s undergraduate career; Conway’s philosophy and approach; channels of distribution and acquisition; the physical constraints of the solander boxes and the range of photographic formats available; of colour photography; of image classification systems; and photographic print processes. There are also cultural and anti-semitic dimensions linked to the Warburg Institute and the role of pre-WW2 German emigrees to London. Cross-references between photographers and their photographs represented in the Conway help link this matrix together and provide further insights into the library’s significance and influence.

The Conway Library: historiography, colour, and bibliography
Thursday, 6 July 2023, from 1730-1830 (BST)
Free, in person only 
The Courtauld Vernon Square Campus, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW
Details and booking:,8BOYZ,ML3WGR,Y9OPW,1

Anthony Hamber is an independent photographic historian, specialising in the 19th century.  He was the photographer and head of visual resources at the History of Art Department, Birkbeck College.  His PhD was published as A Higher Branch of the Art / Photographing the Fine Arts in England 1839-1880 (1996) and most his recent book is Photography and the 1851 Great Exhibition (2018). He has published and lectured widely. His current research projects include an annotated bibliography of photographically illustrated publications 1839-1880. Anthony researches the historiography of art and architecture photographic collections, photographic print processes, and colour reprographics process.

Organised by Dr Tom Nickson (The Courtauld)

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12201231870?profile=originalThe preview of the re-opening of the National Portrait Gallery last night was extravagant, full of supporters and donors. Photography was around the nineteenth century and later galleries, from daguerreotypes and carte-de-visite (nice to see one of Silvy's daybooks open) to traditional portraiture, and contemporary work. 

The opening exhibition of Yevonde which tells her story and focuses on her colour work, following the NPG's acquisition of her colour negatives is a highlight and a very worthy opening show. Curated by Clare Freestone it does full justice to Yevonde's photography and career, through well-written labels and an engaging design which all come together superbly. The accompanying book is equally strong.  The NPG re-opens to the public on 22 June.




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12201231061?profile=originalAnnounced today, a selection of remarkable and beautiful photographs by Walter and Rita Nurnberg capturing post-war working life in three Norwich factories will go on display from 21 October 2023 at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery. The Nurnbergs photographed factories and their workers across the UK in the post-war period, including three Norwich manufacturing institutions – Boulton and Paul, Mackintosh-Caley, and Edwards & Holmes.

As well as capturing the craft and industry of the subjects and their labours, they also applied a stunning modernist visual aesthetic to their documentation of a city striving to rebuild itself economically after the war.  The resulting black and white images – which owe as much to Rita’s skilful printing as they do to Walter’s compositions – are both a fascinating record of this key period in British social history and timeless works of art in their own right.

From 21 October, visitors to Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery will be able to see the Nurnberg’s wonderful images on display for the first time since their pioneering Camera in Industry exhibition at the Castle in 1953, 70 years ago. The exhibition will showcase the Nurnberg’s distinctive and influential photographic practice, focusing on the extraordinary visual record they created of Norwich’s working communities during a pivotal moment of massive societal and cultural change. 

It will include over 130 original photographic prints representing three key Norwich Works: shoe-making at Edwards & Holmes’ Esdelle Works; steel construction, woodworking and wire netting at Boulton & Paul’s Riverside Works; and sweet-making at Caley-Mackintosh’s Chapelfield Works. The photos will be displayed alongside objects from Norwich Castle’s own collections relating to the city’s industrial past and newly digitised archive film.

12201231081?profile=originalThe exhibition is a partnership between Norfolk Museums Service, The University of East Anglia, Norfolk Record Office and The East Anglian Film Archive.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Nick Warr, Lecturer in Art History and Curation at the University of East Anglia, Academic Director of The East Anglian Film Archive and Curator of Photographic Collections (UEA), and Dr Simon Dell, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of East Anglia.

Describing the origins of the exhibition and the significance of Walter and Rita’s work they say: “A serendipitous invitation to advise on a photograph album at the Museum of Norwich back in 2019 initiated the discovery of a wonderful collection of rare photographic prints at the Museum and the Norfolk Record Office. East Anglia has a rich photographic heritage, but the dramatic images made by Walter and Rita Nurnberg of post-war Norwich industry are distinctive for their vivid and empathetic portrayal of Norwich factory workers. Our perception of the past is shaped by the old photographs we see. The ubiquity of anonymous, sepia-toned images of yesteryear reinforces the divide we feel between then and now. With their stylized, monochrome compositions, the images of the past that the Nurnbergs have left us possess the immediacy of the present, as the hands and faces of the workers they depict still feel within our reach.”

Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities, Norfolk County Council says: “Norwich is more often associated with its picturesque medieval heritage but this exhibition is a powerful reminder that industry has always been a vitally important part of city life. The Nurnbergs’ respect for the workers and their work shines through in the artistic care with which they captured their subjects. The result is a moving exhibition which will enable visitors to rediscover a remarkable photographic legacy.”

German émigré, Walter Nurnberg (1907-91), a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, was already a celebrated photographer in 1948 when he embarked on a 13-year project to document Norwich’s major industries. Together with his wife, Rita (1914 - 2001), they brought the aesthetic of the Bauhaus and the dramatic lighting of Expressionist cinema to bear on the factory environment – both the machinery of its production lines and the people who operated them.

Their beautiful, stylised compositions occasionally border on the surreal. Mysterious machinery casts dramatic shadows while striking portraits of workers lean into the glamour and beauty of Hollywood’s golden age - from the time-worn faces of the master artisan to teenage apprentices shining with enthusiasm.

The process of creating the photographs was complex, involving the use of a large format camera and elaborate lighting rigs. Walter’s meticulously choreographed images were then processed by Rita to produce photographic prints of extraordinary quality – it is these prints which form the core of the exhibition.

A substantial number of their photographs of Norwich have been housed in The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell and Norfolk Record Office, where they have been safely stored since the industries that Nurnberg photographed ceased to operate in the city.  

This exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to rediscover these important photographs of Norwich’s past and to celebrate Walter and Rita’s artistic partnership.

Norwich Works: The Industrial Photography of Walter & Rita Nurnberg 
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

Saturday 21 October 2023-Sunday 14 April 2024
To book tickets in advance and information on opening times and admission prices visit:

A programme of related talks and events will be announced nearer the time.

A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Images: top: Walter & Rita Nurnberg, Stitching shoe linings, Edwards & Holmes, Esdelle Works, Norwich, Gelatin silver print, 1948. ⓒ Norfolk Museums Service(Museum of Norwich). Lower: Walter & Rita Nurnberg, Check weighing and closing cartons, Mackintosh Caley
Chapelfield Works, Norwich, Gelatin silver print, 1958. ⓒ Norfolk Record Office

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12201229095?profile=originalCan you help? The Signet Library is conducting research into an album of calotype prints in its collections, originally collected in the late nineteenth century by the psychologist and archaeologist Sir Arthur Mitchell and now on deposit with the National Records of Scotland. The vast majority of the prints are Hill, Adamson and Jessie Mann productions, supplemented by a pair of the carbon prints produced for Andrew Elliot.

The album contains this portrait of the Scottish Free Church leader David Maitland Makgill Crichton (1801-1851):


This portrait (National Records of Scotland GD492/62 image 27) is absent from "Stevenson" (David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson: catalogue of their calotypes taken between 1843 and 1847 in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery by Sara Stevenson (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1981). However, costume and background indicate that this image was taken during the same sitting as the very similar Stevenson David Maitland Makgill Crichton d.

However, we have been unable to find further examples of the Signet Library variant shown here. 

If anyone is aware of further examples, we'd love to hear from them! Either a comment below or an email to james[at]wssociety[dot]co[dot]uk would be ideal.

(The annotation on the portrait is in Sir Arthur Mitchell's hand)

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12201227076?profile=originalWith the development of photomechanical printing techniques around 1900, the dissemination of visual information about art objects expanded on an unprecedented scale. For the first time, editors, publishers, gallerists, auctioneers, artists, art historians, and associations had access to a seemingly unlimited supply of images. Together with photographers, studios, and photo agencies, these figures became key actors in a distribution model in which photomechanically reproduced artworks played a central role. As a consequence, those who worked in the fields of art and art history now had to deal with entirely new visual objects: from illustrated books and periodicals to facsimiles, postcards, calendar pages, and clipping collections. All these items were kept on shelves and in boxes, included in scrapbooks, or pinned to walls, as part of personal or institutional archives. They served both as research documents and as evidence of personal visual obsessions or new collective ideas.

The diversity of these novel photomechanical sources, the system that produced and surrounded them, and their distribution and cultural impact are still an open field for investigation, one that seems all the more important to address as this visual information – made widely accessible by the digitization campaigns of recent years – can form the basis for a material and medial counter-history of twentieth-century art. In order to reflect on the specific nature of photomechanical reproductions of art (with regard to their materiality, distribution, and uses), the conference will navigate between the fields of the history of art and photography, periodical studies, visual and media studies, and the digital humanities.

Which actors and techniques were involved in making photomechanical reproductions of works of art? What were the socio-economic and aesthetic drivers of the activities of photo agencies and publishers? Which subjects whose identity has so far remained in the background – such as women or minorities – can be reclaimed by analyzing reproductions from a material and systemic perspective? What role did pictures of works of art play in the editorial and cultural policies of their time? What do we know about their reception? How did the photomechanical reproduction of artworks affect art historiography, teaching, criticism, and the canon? Which narratives that have fallen out of the canon can be restored through digital methods?

These questions take on a new urgency with the increasing importance of the digital processing of image data, as it has opened new horizons for studying reproductions on a large scale, removed some of the limitations of accessibility, and paved the way for larger comparative studies. At the same time, these new tools raise critical questions that have not been fully explored, and require greater awareness of the objects, techniques, processes, and contexts under consideration. We invite speakers from across the methodology spectrum: from close to distant reading, from traditional to digital-based approaches. The goal is to open a discussion between scholars conducting qualitative research and the growing number of digital experts working in interdisciplinary teams.

We invite submissions for maximum twenty-minute presentations that address (but are not limited to) the photomechanical reproduction of art from the following perspectives:

● Networks and individual actors involved in the production of photomechanical reproductions of art – photo agencies, studios, photographers, printing companies, etc. Their histories, styles, and cultural role.

● Physical objects and techniques related to the photomechanical printing process: clichés, negatives, photographic and printing equipment, retouching, templates, etc. The effects and meanings created by the materiality of the tools.

● The socio-economic, legal, institutional, and political conditions under which photomechanical reproductions of art were produced and circulated.

● Printed media and their dissemination as a social practice: the role of clients, artists, art dealers, publishers, editors, and curators.

● The relationship between image and text: the use of captions, layouts, and the epistemological role of pictures in art literature.

● Critical debates concerning the reproducibility of art through photomechanical printing.

● Reception: the impact of photomechanical reproductions of works of art on artistic production, historiography, criticism, teaching, and public culture. Their role in shaping the emotions of the audience and/or encouraging the democratization of art.

● Quantitative approaches and new methodological challenges: advantages, case studies, and problems faced by the digital humanities in the study of photomechanical art reproductions.

Keynote Speakers:

Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel (Université de Genève)
Megan R. Luke (University of Southern California)
Jens Ruchatz (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

Please submit an abstract of max. 300 words and a short biography to by 30 July 2023. The results of the submissions will be notified by September 15. The conference will be held in English. It will take place in person in Prague on 5–6 December 2023.

This conference is part of the project The Matrix of Photomechanical Reproductions: Histories of Remote Access to Art, which is being implemented at the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, supported by the Lumina Quaeruntur fellowship.

For any further information please contact us at or

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12201227279?profile=originalA new exhibition at the Museum of Bath at Work, shows people ‘face to face’ from 130 years ago, using over 300 photographs from the 1890s and 1900s, all of them portraits taken in the studio of Tom Carlyle Leaman which was at number 7, The Corridor. The photographs were made from the original negatives which were digitised by the museum. 

The pictures give us a real window on the past, especially the clothes that were then in fashion, accessories, and the way people styled their hair.  Many of the plates have a surname written on the back, and volunteers at the Museum of Bath at Work have researched some of them.  In the exhibition you can meet Mr David Press who ran a confectioners and bakery in Broad Street; the girls of the Candy family whose parents were farmers at Bathampton; Mr Charles Moutrie the General Manager at Bath Racecourse; and Miss Daisy Fentiman who worked stitching corsets.

Museum Director Stuart Burroughs says:

“Face to Face: Victorian and Edwardian Portraits of Working People in Bath shows us the faces of ordinary people, and gives a snapshot of the kind of jobs they did and where they lived.  There are many portraits where the person’s identity remains a mystery – come and see if you recognise anyone from your own family album!”

Face to Face: Victorian and Edwardian Portraits of Working People in Bath
until 31 October 2023

The Museum of Bath at Work
Julian Road, Bath BA1 2RH
Daily from 1000-1700


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12201228857?profile=originalThe National Science and Media Museum celebrates its 40th birthday on 16 June with a new short film, showcasing favourite memories from the last four decades and looking towards the future.  Museum Director J Quinton-Tulloch has set a target of 500,000 visitors when the museum re-opens in 2024. 

In the film, visitors, friends, staff and community members take a trip down memory lane, sharing their favourite moments at the museum, beloved objects and what the museum means to them, along with what the next 40 years might look like. From fond memories of first trips to the museum as children, to favourite objects and moments, the film reflects on the importance of the museum and its impact on people’s lives over the last four decades.

Opened on 16 June 1983 as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, the museum has welcomed millions of visitors, telling the story of sound and image technologies, and their impact on our lives. From the world’s first photograph to Louis Le Prince’s ground-breaking work in film, as well as the cameras that captured the famous Cottingley Fairies photographs, and the millions of images from the Daily Herald Archive, once the world’s top selling newspaper, the museum tells the story of countless pioneering firsts.

The museum is also home to three cinema screens, including Europe’s first IMAX which also opened in 1983. To Fly! a documentary made about the history of flight was the first film ever screened in the museum’s IMAX, and was the only film shown for 15 months. 

Memorable moments from the museum’s history include the iconic magic carpet; Pierce Brosnan flying in via helicopter to reopen the museum following a refurb in 1999; the launch of the first ever live broadcasting studio in a museum; Tim Peake’s spacecraft in the foyer, plus many more. 

Commenting on the monumental occasion, Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Science and Media Museum said: “This year marks a special anniversary for us as the museum celebrates its 40th birthday in June, and it feels especially fitting as we enter an exciting new phase. Our new film not only celebrates and reflects on the last four decades, but also looks ahead to the future and the exciting things to come. The opening of our new Sound and Vision galleries will be truly transformational, and we hope to continue to inspire our next generation of visitors from Bradford and beyond.” 

12201229452?profile=originalThe museum is currently temporarily closed to the public until summer 2024 as it undergoes a £6m once-in-a-generation transformation. Thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and money raised by National Lottery players, the major Sound and Vision project will create two new galleries, an additional passenger lift and an enhanced foyer space. In addition to funding received from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project also has support from the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund 2022-24, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, and the Science Museum Group, which the National Science and Media Museum is a part of. 

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: “We wish the National Science and Media Museum many happy returns as they celebrate their 40th birthday. We are delighted that we have been able to work with this museum over the years, investing over £14m of National Lottery Funding to support exciting heritage projects, that have created lots of wonderful memories for visitors the world over. 

“We are also thrilled to be supporting the museum’s journey beyond this momentous milestone and look forward to seeing the new Sound and Vision galleries, which are sure to provide inspiration or years to come.”

For more information about the museum’s 40th birthday celebration and to watch the new film, visit:   

To send the museum a birthday gift, donate here:

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12201226285?profile=originalBack in 2015 BPH reported on the outcry as the Royal Society for Asian Affairs sold rare photographs and books from its collection. Amongst the items being sold were important albums by J C Watson showing China c.1867-1870; John Thomson's Antiquities of Cambodia, c1867; J C White photographs of Sikhim and Tibet and others. The lots can be seen here. The RSAA hoped to realise £250,000 to safeguard its survival but in the end the sales realised £136,000 before commissions. 

The RSAA has issued a statement concluding that that judgement was wrong and that the decisions leading to the sale were flawed both in principle and in implementation. BPH and other objected to the original sales.  The statement reads: 

In 2015-16 the Royal Society for Asian Affairs sold at auction a number of items from its collections.  The sales were controversial, and concerns were raised by RSAA members and scholars in the field.  At the time the Society held that the sales were its only option to ensure its survival. 

In late 2022 and early 2023 an internal review showed that the Society’s decisions leading to the sales were significantly flawed in principle and in implementation.  The RSAA’s Board of Trustees is therefore taking steps to rectify as far as possible the mistakes that were made and to mitigate their consequences.

The entire proceeds of the 2015-16 sales, £171,391, will become a designated fund solely and directly for the benefit of the collections, their long-term sustainability, use and development.    

Within the next twelve months, the Society will commence a multi-year project to digitise its collections and to make its catalogue a more effective tool for researchers.

The RSAA’s Trustees will also consider whether there are additional skills and experience that the Society’s Board needs in order to provide effective future oversight of the Society’s affairs.        

By these means the RSAA seeks to avoid any recurrence of past mistakes; to demonstrate to its many supporters and donors that the Society’s collections are and will remain a high priority; and that best practice and appropriate investment are the basis on which the collections will in future be managed.

As the RSAA's chief executive noted to BPH "although it is not possible to undo the actions of 2015-16, the RSAA's Trustees and I hope that the steps that we are taking will go some way to reassuring you that the Society is now committed to its collections in a way that was not always the case in the past". 

See the original BPH post here: which includes a link to the photographic lots

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12201225293?profile=originalPhotofusion, the London-based gallery, photography education provider and community space, is seeking a new Director.  Kim Shaw has decided to step down after eight years at the helm of Photofusion during which time she has achieved a great deal for the organisation, including NPO status, charitable status and successful bid for a brand new premises in Brixton. Kim will oversee the move into the new location before stepping down to focus on her artistic practice and MA at CSM.

The organisation is seeking a strategic, creative and ambitious individual who can build on its important legacy and join at this exciting time of development and opportunity. The Director will encourage a deeper understanding and engagement with photography and its value to society through strong leadership and vision.

Established over 30 years ago, Photofusion has a proven track record in supporting artists and members, delivering high quality exhibitions and programming socially engaged projects for young people and the communities of Lambeth.

For full information see:

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12201226882?profile=originalThe Maison Française d'Oxford and the Rothermere American Institute are invitingg paper proposals on the theme: ‘Love and Lenses: Photographic Couples, Gender Relationships, and Transatlantic Networks in the Long Nineteenth Century.’ This conference is being organised by Dr. Emily Brady (Broadbent Junior Research Fellow, Rothermere American Institute) and Martyna Zielinska (DPhil, Université de Paris Cité, LARCA).

This two-day conference invites papers that explore photographic partnerships as a main object of study. Since the invention of the camera, men and women – spouses, friends, members of the same family – have learned and practiced photography together for business, pleasure, educational and scientific purposes. This conference aims to bring new light on how the practice of photography could bear an impact on gender relationships in the long nineteenth century. A wide geographic scope will enable discussion of the differences in women’s emancipatory contexts, and to discuss the legal and social frameworks of professional photographic partnerships. As such, we look forward to welcoming papers that include both literal interpretations of ‘photographic couples’ and more abstract ideas / associations.

The conference will include keynotes from Professor Elizabeth Edwards (Research Affiliate, ISCA, University of Oxford) and Dr. Carolin Görgen (Associate Professor of American Studies, Sorbonne Université). We are keen to programme papers across multiple disciplines, including (but not limited to): History, Art History, American Studies, and Gender Studies.

Please submit a paper title, 250-word abstract and a copy of your CV. The deadline for submission is the 21 July 2023. This should be sent to: and Papers should be 20 minutes in length.

The conference will be delivered in person only.  

Limited funding is available to assist with travel and accommodation costs. If you wish to apply for this, please include a brief justification in your application.

Love and Lenses: Photographic Couples, Gender Relationships, and Transatlantic Networks in the Long Nineteenth Century
12– 13 October 2023
Maison Française d'Oxford and Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford
Call closes 21 July 2023

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12201223685?profile=originalOpening at Four Corners Gallery this month, Conditions of Living: Home and Homelessness in London’s East End takes a visual journey from workhouses to slums, damp tower blocks to homeless shelters, exploring how photographers have represented these conditions for over a century. It sheds light on little-known histories: the tenants’ rent strikes of the 1930s, post-war squatting, and ‘bonfire corner’, a meeting place for homeless people at Spitalfields Market for more than twenty years.

This timely exhibition draws shocking comparisons with today’s housing precarity, high rents and homelessness. From Victorian slums and the first model estates, to the mass post-war council house construction and the subsequent demolition of many tower blocks, it ends with post-Thatcherist gentrification and its impact on affordable housing.

The exhibition features new work by the artist Anthony Luvera, which addresses the rise of economic segregation in recent housing developments across Tower Hamlets, a phenomenon commonly known as ‘poor doors’. Also titled Conditions of Living, this socially engaged artwork by Luvera is built upon extensive research into the social, political, and economic contexts behind the rise of market-driven ‘affordable’ housing provision and the state of social housing today, and is created in collaboration with a community forum of local residents who live in the buildings themselves. This new work builds upon Luvera’s twenty-year career dedicated to working collaboratively with people who have experienced homelessness, and addressing issues of housing precarity and housing justice. 

Anthony Luvera says: ‘London is one of the world’s last major cities still to ban the practice of allowing property developers to build ‘poor doors’, despite proclamations by successive governments and mayors about stopping the appalling practice. My work with people experiencing homelessness began twenty years ago in Spitalfields. To be back in Tower Hamlets creating this new work about economic segregation in housing developments and the broken social housing system feels urgent, especially at a time when the cost of living crisis has sunk its claws into the lives of ordinary working people.

Carla Mitchell, Artistic Director at Four Corners says: ‘this is a highly relevant exhibition, given the extortionate London rents which create forms of social cleansing for long-established local communities. We were inspired by Four Corners’ own building, which was a Salvation Army working men’s hostel for over fifty years.’

Conditions of Living: Home and Homelessness in London’s East End
30 June – 2 September 2023  

Free admission. Opening hours 11am-6pm Tues - Sat, until 8pm Thurs. 
Four Corners, 121 Roman Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 0QN
Nearest tube: Bethnal Green, Central Line 

Photo: New Houses. A slum clearance operation in Poplar, East London, 19th April 1951. © Topical Press Agency/Getty Images/Hulton Archive.

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12201222497?profile=originalThe next on-line seminar of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry will be given by Professor Kelley Wilder (De Montfort University) who will present John Herschel’s Chemical Investigations. The format will be a talk of 20-30 minutes, followed by a moderated discussion of half an hour.

As with recent seminars the Zoom link can be freely accessed by anyone, member of SHAC or not, by booking through the Eventbrite link below. 

John Herschel’s Chemical Investigations
Professor Kelley Wilder
Thursday, 29 June 2023, beginning at 5.00pm BST (6.00pm CET, 12noon EST, 9.00am PST)

Register and get link:

The seminar will be also accessible live on YouTube.

Most previous on-line seminars can be found on the SHAC YouTube Channel:

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12201220497?profile=originalThis is a rare opportunity to celebrate the photographic activism that came out of Birmingham in the latter part of the 20th Century. Ten.8 became one of the few magazines that had real impact in those times and from being a local publication it grew into an international quarterly that had worldwide impact.

In this talk, Derek Bishton will take us on a visual journey into a key period of photographic activity in Birmingham. Ten.8 magazine started life as an attempt to create a photographic community in the city, to bring together those who were interested in the politics of image-making. The founding group comprised a diverse group of community activists, alternative publishers, academics, documentary photographers and teachers.

Working from a small community design and publishing studio in Handsworth run by Derek Bishton and Brian Homer, the group produced a magazine that grew from a local publication with a West Midlands focus into an international quarterly journal, attracting contributors from around the world and influencing the way photography was taught at degree level in universities and colleges everywhere. Like so many things produced in Birmingham, it is something of a hidden gem.

Next year, Tate Britain is hosting an exhibition called The Critical Decade which has been inspired by the work published in Ten.8, so perhaps it’s time to celebrate. 

Derek Bishton, is a Birmingham-born writer and former journalist, community activist, photographer, publisher and internet pioneer. He was one of the founders of Ten.8 magazine in Birmingham. He edited many issues and was a member of the editorial group throughout the life of the publication (1978-1993). He is the author of several books including Black Heart Man and Home Front (with John Reardon). He was director of the Triangle Gallery (1985-87) and in 1994 led the team who developed and launched electronic telegraph, the UK’s first internet newspaper. From 1999-2012 he was Group Consultant Editor at Telegraph Media Group. He is currently working on a book about his work in Handsworth during the 1970s and 80s.

There will be a Q and A after the presentation chaired by Richard Short from Centrala. The bar will be open for refreshments.

Ten.8 and the Critical Decade (1978-1992)
Talk by Derek Bushton
Hosted by Prism, the new photography network for Birmingham and the West Midlands

Tuesday, 11 July 2023 from 1830-2100
Tickets: £3-£5
Centrala, 158 Fazeley Street Birmingham B5 5RT

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Publication: Anna Atkins Cyanotypes

12201224491?profile=originalAt the dawn of the Victorian era in her open-air laboratory in Halstead, Kent, Anna Atkins embarked on a radical experiment to document botanical species using a completely new artistic medium. The inimitable cyanotype photograms of algae and ferns she created were made into the first books to feature photographic images. Striking yet ethereal, these albums are a perfect synthesis of art and science.

Although the cyanotype technique was discovered by her friend John Herschel, Atkins was the first to realize both its practical purpose for own her interests in botany and taxonomy, and its intriguing artistic potential. The process, which involved fixing the object on sensitized paper and exposing it directly to sunlight, results in the Prussian blue pigment that forms the unmistakeable backdrop to these artworks.

Atkins’ albums British Algae (1843–1853) and Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns (1853), the latter of which was produced with her friend Anne Dixon, are works of remarkable rarity. Reprinted here in their entirety for the first time, they reveal her mastery of multiple disciplines: While the cyanotype process allowed Atkins to meet the challenges of accurate representation, the delicate contours of the specimens, set above the intense blue background, has lent the images a timeless aesthetic appeal.

12201225068?profile=originalThis edition, drawing extensively from the copies of the New York Public Library and J. Paul Getty Museum, has carefully compiled cyanotypes from several sources to reprint Atkins’ seminal works in full. Over 550 cyanotype impressions are accompanied by a series of introductory essays from Peter Walther, placing Atkins’ work in its scientific and art-historical contexts and paying rightful tribute to the groundbreaking contributions of a female pioneer.

Anna Atkins. Cyanotypes
Peter Walther (editor)
Taschen, hardcover in slipcase, 24.3 x 30.4 cm, 2.55 kg, 660 pages
ISBN 978-3-8365-9603-9
Famous First Edition: First printing of 7,500 numbered copies
Details here

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12201231088?profile=originalI enjoyed the Bright Sparks exhibition, partly because it includes a lot of pleasing and fascinating items, and partly because it is so unintentionally funny. At the start of the show a cabinet containing various objects owned by Talbot, including a set of seven wooden geometric blocks, a gyroscope, a cork-stoppered bottle holding ‘Oxide of T’, a glass prism, a pile of torn-up letters, is, we are told, evidence that Talbot ‘never threw anything away’. We cannot of course know what the man did and did not discard, but what this eclectic assemblage indicates is that he was, like other Victorian gentlemen, an amateur scientist, a collector and a documenter. We owe a lot to these nineteenth-century enthusiasts, but rather than putting Talbot’s contribution in historical context, this exhibition attempts to ‘create a dialogue’ between his work and that of a somewhat random choice of ‘later photographers’.

I did not see the earlier show A New Power: Photography in Britain 1800–1850, which I hope put Talbot's work in the context of his contemporaries. The assumption in this show seems to be that exhibition-goers cannot relate to anything historical, scientific or informative. We can only think of photographs as something to put on Instagram. Many of the objects and images on display are interesting, but the text that accompanies them makes extraordinarily tenuous connections based on silly or unsubstantiated assertions. It is true that Talbot believed photography had enormous commercial potential in recording and illustrating areas as diverse as botany and travel. But to state that in publishing The Pencil of Nature Talbot ‘helped to launch the genre of the photo book’, and then represent this ‘genre’ with a random selection of publications by art photographers including Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows and Robert Frank is bizarre. The only connection between these books and Talbot’s is that they contain photographs, but so does an underwear catalogue, which would probably be closer to what Talbot was doing.

Other attempts to relate Talbot’s work to the contemporary viewer include the assertion that a photograph of some books he owned is ‘a kind of surrogate self portrait’, because ‘Strikingly, Talbot never took any photos of himself’. Is that really so surprising, given the technical means at his disposal? How many other Victorian photographers took selfies? This is simply another rather pathetic attempt to make the show accessible to an apparently moronic public.

Another tenuous link is that between Talbot’s desire to make photographs commercially reproducible, and Stieglitz’ magazine, Camera Work. The exhibition text makes the ridiculous assertion that ‘Camera Work is often regarded as the finest photography magazine ever produced’. Regarded by whom? Pictorialism went out of fashion well over 100 years ago. The exhibition is full of these strange assertions and wild claims. The text accompanying one of Man Ray’s images in his series Les voies lactées states that ‘American artist Man Ray made this photograph while he was living in Paris (he’d lived there for more than 50 years when he made this work) and concludes with the grammatically incorrect sentence: ‘Made near the end of his life, Man Ray contemplates the heavens above while looking down on a domestic, prosaic material, a juxtaposition typical of his Surrealist approach to art making’. Where does one start to demolish this? Man Ray was not a Surrealist, Surrealism was not about juxtaposing the banal with the cosmic, and anyway the image was made half a century after the movement. Who is to say what Man Ray was thinking at the time he made it? And what does any of this have to do with Talbot?

One photographer in the show who has seriously engaged with Talbot’s work is Simon Murison-Bowie, who spent a number of years revisiting Talbot’s photos of Oxford – location, lighting, time of day and year. Murison-Bowie's work – an enormous undertaking of detection and devotion – attempts to understand Talbot’s relationship with the city and how it differs from our present-day experience. In the Bodleian show this project has been dumbed down to a handful of images that happen to be made in publicly accessible places. There is no comparison to the Talbot original, except in thumbnail images on a map encouraging visitors to recreate the same photos themselves and put them on social media. How this suggested activity contributes to anyone’s appreciation of Talbot and his work is beyond me.

12201231675?profile=originalThe overall feeling I got from the show was annoyance at being patronised. I would have liked to have felt enriched by my visit rather than insulted. I was also irritated by various silly factual mistakes and errors of spelling and grammar in the texts accompanying the exhibits. Next time, Bodleian, employ a proofreader. There is no shortage of them in Oxford.

But it has its hilarious moments – it is fun to see that Stephen Spender’s family photo album is just like everyone else’s from that era, even if its link to Talbot is a puerile attempt to make a connection between his posed portraits of family members and our snaps today. And the show includes some exhibits which make the trip down Broad Street worthwhile. Talbot’s etching of a fern is exquisite, as is his photogram of three grasses. I enjoyed seeing the first photograph of the Mona Lisa, I was touched by Talbot’s ‘Collection of hand-folded seed packets (mainly empty) with manuscript labels’, I liked Garry Fabian Miller’s camera-less photos of ivy leaves. And I loved seeing a Julia Margaret Cameron print on display (Oxford has so many of these languishing in cellars), despite the laughable assertion accompanying it that ‘photographs make pretence look plausible’.

The item I most coveted was Talbot’s electrostatic discharge wand. The photographs made by Hiroshi Sugimoto using sparks from the wand could never have been produced by Talbot with the methods available to him, and yet they are in the same spirit of invention, experimentation and wonder at the world shown by this photographic pioneer almost 200 years ago.



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12201219466?profile=originalThis one-day, interdisciplinary workshop aims to bring together researchers, archivists and curators to explore twentieth-century photo-magazines from across the British Empire and Commonwealth during the so-called ‘golden age of photojournalism’.

As well as the birth of photojournalism, the seismic political, cultural and technological revolutions of the interwar period also gave rise to a novel publication format – the photo-magazine. As Stuart Hall characterised it in his seminal 1972 essay on Picture Post, these were ‘image-over-text’ publications which gave primacy to the photographic image arranged into dynamic layouts and photo-stories by an innovative cadre of picture editors and art directors.

Exemplified by photo-reportage from the Spanish Civil War, this novel format was catalysed during the Second World War via widely circulated visual information campaigns by both commercial organisations and political actors. In the postwar period, the photo-magazine format was deployed by British occupying forces in defeated Germany. Photo-magazines were also a vital element of flourishing public relations initiatives by both newly established agencies of the UN and a host of industrial and manufacturing companies concerned about image management.

Thus, throughout the central decades of the last century, the general readership photo-magazine was developed and used to communicate with large, diverse and/or distant audiences. This format constituted a defining aspect of a public’s visual experience prior to the segmentation of magazine audiences from the 1960s and the dominance of television. This period – arguably, the golden age of photojournalism – coincides with the decline and disestablishment of the British Empire.12201220058?profile=original

We aim to coordinate a selection of papers that look at publications from across the British Empire and Commonwealth in this period. These will address how such photo-magazines sought to instruct and entertain; how they represented social issues; how they othered and racialised indigenous communities; how they documented conflict; how they obscured, as much as revealed, historical developments; how they constructed, connected or divided audiences and publics; and how they explored or framed key tensions in the changing political landscape of the British Commonwealth and its constituent dominions and dependencies.

Hosted by the Tom Hopkinson Centre for Media History at Cardiff University, this initiative is a collaboration between Dr Tom Allbeson (Senior Lecturer in Media History, Cardiff University) and Dr Kevin Foster (Associate Professor in Literary Studies, Monash University).

We invite proposals for individual 20-minute papers from scholars, archivists and curators at all career stages working on relevant topics, as well as proposals for themed panels comprising three related 20-minute papers.

Please submit an abstract (max 500 words) and a short biography (max 200 words) by 1 August 2023 to the convenors, and

If possible, we will endeavour to provide funding to support travel costs for early career researchers. For international contributors, we could also consider a themed panel delivered via Zoom.

Call for Papers: Photo-magazines across the British Empire & Commonwealth, c.1925-75
One-day workshop, School of Journalism, Media & Culture, Cardiff University
Friday 22 September 2023
Deadline for paper call: 1 August 2023

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