Pic­tur­ing The Past ...

What can we tell from a photo? Let’s Talk has teamed up with the Mu­seum of Nor­wich at the Bridewell and Pic­ture Nor­folk to help you dis­cover the sto­ries be­hind the pho­tos in a fas­ci­nat­ing new ex­hi­bi­tion,

Let's Talk - - Exhibition - as Angi Kennedy ex­plains.

To­day tak­ing pho­to­graphs, and ap­pear­ing in them, is a part of ev­ery­day life for many peo­ple. Statis­tics say that there were 1.2 tril­lion dig­i­tal pho­tos taken in last year alone!

With smart­phones, most of us now have a cam­era in our pocket and we can doc­u­ment any­thing from our loved ones and pets to a beau­ti­ful sun­set or even a plate of food.

The very first photo was taken in 1826, by French in­ven­tor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, of a view from a win­dow in Le Gras. As the art and tech­nol­ogy of pho­tog­ra­phy de­vel­oped, it was in­creas­ingly used to record sig­nif­i­cant mo­ments in our his­tory and also for mile­stones in our an­ces­tors’ lives. Wed­dings, fam­ily gatherings and other spe­cial days might be marked with a pho­to­graph, usu­ally posed and for­mal but cher­ished for years af­ter­wards. By the 1960s it is said that more than half of all pho­tos be­ing taken were of ba­bies!

Now many of us have al­bums or boxes of our own fam­ily pho­to­graphs - and some­times within these are pic­tures that have been passed down through the gen­er­a­tions. We may be able to recog­nise some long-passed rel­a­tives and friends in these, but of­ten the lo­ca­tion, event, date and rea­son for cap­tur­ing it in a photo are not known.

You might think that if you don’t recog­nise the peo­ple or places in a photo then you are stuck - but there are plenty of clues to help you un­ravel the story be­hind the pic­ture. A new ex­hi­bi­tion by The Mu­seum of Nor­wich at The Bridewell in part­ner­ship with Let’s Talk and Pic­ture Nor­folk is aim­ing to re­veal some of those clues, us­ing lo­cal archive im­ages, to help you un­lock the se­crets be­hind the smiles.

Pic­tur­ing The Past opens at the mu­seum, in Bridewell Al­ley, on Tues­day, Septem­ber 25 and runs un­til next Fe­bru­ary.

One of the high­lights on show will be a col­lec­tion of pic­tures which was given by the Mitchell fam­ily from Nor­wich to Pic­ture Nor­folk, an on­line col­lec­tion run by Nor­folk Li­brary and In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice of more than 25,000 lo­cal im­ages that re­flect thou­sands of sto­ries of Nor­folk life through the past 150 years. The Mitchell col­lec­tion spans more than 100 years from the 1870s, and is typ­i­cal in terms of

the sub­jects of the pho­tos - shots chart­ing the gen­er­a­tions and growth of the fam­ily through the years - but spe­cial in that it in­cludes all styles of pho­tog­ra­phy from am­brotype (neg­a­tive im­ages formed on a glass plate, pop­u­lar in the mid-1800s), through stu­dio po­traits to mod­ern day pho­tos.

The ex­hi­bi­tion fol­lows the suc­cess of last year’s of Who Do You Think They Are? ex­hi­bi­tion, when Let’s Talk teamed up The Fo­rum in Nor­wich, the Nor­folk Her­itage Cen­tre at the Mil­len­nium Li­brary and Age UK Nor­wich. More than 12,000 peo­ple vis­ited the dis­plays of mys­tery pho­to­graphs from our ar­chives, with many putting for­ward their sug­ges­tions for the sto­ries be­hind the pic­tures.

This time, at the Mu­seum of Nor­wich, we will be pre­sent­ing an­other se­lec­tion of won­der­ful old pho­to­graphs that have been hid­den away in the Archant ar­chives at Let’s Talk’s of­fices in Prospect House, Nor­wich. We would love to be able to dis­cover the long for­got­ten sto­ries be­hind these pic­tures, and vis­i­tors to the ex­hi­bi­tion will be in­vited to share their ideas on what, where and who the pho­tos show.

This in­ter­est­ing pic­ture shows a large gath­er­ing of men and women at Man­croft Tow­ers, in Oul­ton Broad, which was de­signed by the Ed­war­dian ar­chi­tect Ge­orge John Skip­per for P E Back, of the wine and spir­its mer­chant in Nor­wich in the 1890s. What could have brought so many peo­ple to the house and when do you think this photo was taken?

John and Lu­cre­tia Mitchell with their daugh­ter Mar­garet, and other chil­dren (stand­ing) Leti­tia, John, Mary and James.

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