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Magic Lantern Slides at Hove Museum & Art Gallery

a magic lantern slide showing a learned cat

 The optical, film and cinema collection at Hove Museum

While exploring Hove museum I was really impressed by the two galleries dedicated to their optical toys, devices, film and cinema collection. A great mix of stories, machines, objects and historic films playing in a tiny cinema. Part of this collection includes magic lantern slides and a fine selection of projectors.

Why magic lantern slides?

At work (Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery) there’s a research project about the museum’s magic lantern slide collection. The A Million Pictures  project is international in scope involving museums and universities. Part of this includes digitising and adding the slides to the museum’s database and collections website. Being involved in this project kindled an interest in magic lantern slides as social history and as objects in their own right.

Assisting my more learned colleagues with slide shows at museum events added fuel to the fire. Thinking of fuel we used an electric light rather than anything more inflammable and exciting. From this my interest in both slides and projectors has grown.

Photo of myself Ready to be a projector's assistant

Ready to be a projector’s assistant

 

The collection at Hove Museum

Finding a gallery with lots of magic lantern slides related content was a lovely surprise. There were full size projectors along with smaller ones for home use and even toy ones. A two lens (biunial) projector from the 1870s was very impressive. The brass was gleaming and the wood glowing with polish.  A later projector was displayed with its case and accessories showing how bulky these were.

By way of contrast small projectors for home use and toy projectors were displayed, These also had slide mounts and strips of images with them. The strips of images often had amusing images for home entertainment on. There is also an impressive backlit wall of slides to give an idea of the variety of subjects found. I didn’t look at every one but could have happily done so!

 

If you’re in the Brighton and Hove area I recommend a visit to Hove Museum and Art Gallery

 

 

 

 

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Terence Donovan exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery

Photo of the Donovan exhibition poster

Terence Donovan retrospective in Soho

This 2016 exhibition is spread over two floors of the Photographers’ Gallery in London. My interest in Donovan’s work comes from his taking fashion out of the studio and into his East End. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of conventional fashion shots in the exhibition.

The exhibition includes studio, outdoor work, portraits and video. Something that really comes out is how Donovan was very much a man of his time whether commissions from Town magazine, photographing a young Julie Christie, musicians’ portraits in the 1990s or directing pop videos.

Seeing his studio day bookss give a reminder that he was earning a living from his work. The more bread and butter commissions recorded for Woman’s Own are a good example of this.

What made Donovan different?

One of a trio of working class photographers in the 1960s Donovan does stand out (David Bailey and Brian Duffy were the other two). I see him as different because he used photojournalism techniques with fashion. Whether on East End streets, power stations or shooting through a car window he took fashion photography out of the studio and safe landscape.

This technique is maybe taken too far though in his Spy series of photographs for Town magazine. Or perhaps time simply has made them lose the innovative look they had when published.

There’s an exhibition catalogue for anyone who missed the show.

 

 

 

Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern

Beyond the flowers

Like most people who’ve encountered O’Keeffe’s art its the flowers and sound based abstracts that stick in the mind. So it was great to see such a broad cross section of all her work from the bones to early charcoal work. And a visit to Tate Modern is always enjoyable.

Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition

Georgia O’Keefe – leaflet and ticket


In particular the New York landscapes were new to me and I liked the mix of views and times of day used. Having lived in a tower block in a city the high viewpoint of the city at night really struck a chord.

Stieglitz and photographs

Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs featured throughout the exhibition. This included personal photos, landscapes, the well known images of O’Keeffe. The photos added context to O’Keeffe’s life and works but also her relationship with someone who had a creative life in their own right. Seeing Stieglitz’s photos with O’Keeffe’s painting of the same viewpoint was really interesting. Not least because he used daylight whereas she had painted a night scene.

There was little in the way of ephemera in the exhibition but books and copies of Stieglitz’s journal Camera Club were on view. Also exhibited were some examples of his series of cloudscapes from the Equivalent series.

Better known now is Ansel Adams and his work appeared too. He travelled with O’Keeffe and shared a love of landscapes. I found it interesting seeing his large, very clear and more contemporary looking images compared to some of Stieglitz’s smaller and darker prints.

 

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The 2015 exhibition

Saw the touring exhibition of last year’s competition in Bristol’s M Shed today. As ever much to admire, study and get inspired by. We also liked the fridge magnets.

 

Snow Hare fridge magnet

Snow Hare fridge magnet

The exhibition space at M Shed is great for photography. It’s got enough space for plenty of work to get shown without feeling squeezed. This includes space for stop motion and a slideshow of the public’s choice.

Not just wildlife but the natural world

Perhaps the use of the environment is greater in this exhibition or I maybe simply noticed it more. A lot of images have a clear context whether tiny weevils on a plant stem or an aerial shot of small flamingoes.

Some parts of the competition are focussed (had to get that in somewhere) on the environment itself. I liked this and found the mix of small and large scale approaches kept it interesting.

The world is changing

The effects of climate change, politics and economics all feature. This added a depth to the exhibition for me as a reminder of mankind being able to influence nature.

Photographic themes

There were some clear themes from previous years and nature photography in general. All were beautifully executed and in no way disappointing.

Some were visual as with the blue sea and shark combination or using sand dunes. More interesting for me were descriptions of how photographers achieved shots. These included using simple patience, bait of various kinds, testing their stamina in adverse conditions or simply taking lots of shots before achieving what they wanted.

Enter for 2016?

Well the familiar scenes of foxes and other found shots are encouraging but the standard is very high. I’m pondering it which is a good excuse.  If you’re tempted have a go!

Squirrel hoping for  treats - think I'll need to do better!

Squirrel hoping for treats – think I’ll need to do better!

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