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,
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.