In the picture
An exhibition at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford explores the rich history of British photography and includes some iconic images.
The latest exhibition at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford is Britain in Focus: A Photographic History, a major new show exploring the fascinating and remarkable history of British photography; from everyday snapshots to worldrenowned iconic images.
It partners a three-part documentary series on BBC4 with the same name is presented by award-winning photographer and picture editor Eamonn McCabe.
Both the exhibition – which opened earlier this month and continues until June – and the series start their journey with the dawn of photography in Britain in the 19th century, before charting its progress throughout 20th century to the present day, and the impact of the social media explosion.
Britain in Focus not only illustrates how a selection of acclaimed photographers documented, reflected and commented on their home country, and in doing so became known around the world, but also how countless others have contributed to the recording of national and social history over nearly 200 years.
Alongside pictures taken by anonymous soldiers in the First World War trenches and press shots of historic moments, the exhibition includes examples from the colourful world of post card producer John Hinde; John Bulmer’s ground-breaking images from the North of England, which appeared in the Sunday Times Magazine in the 1960s; William Henry Fox Talbot’s photographs of Lacock Abbey in the 1840s – some of the earliest ever taken; a selection of Jane Bown’s portraits of cultural figureheads from the 1960s and 1970s; Martin Parr’s inimitable views of the 1980s, Eamonn McCabe’s reports from the Heysel stadium tragedy; and Fay Godwin’s visual hymns to the British landscape.
Also among the featured pioneers are Julia Margaret Cameron, Alvin Langdon Coburn and Cecil Beaton, as well as contemporaries such as Nadav Kander and Peter Mitchell.
Through these images, Britain in Focus additionally traces the path of an industry: how glass plates gave way to film cartridges, black and white transformed to colour, and photographic paper was replaced by digital pixels. A selection of cartes de visite – one of the first commercially available methods of sharing photographs – sit with a selection of images from the social media network Instagram, originally posted by a teenager from Huddersfield.
“Throughout Britain in Focus we see the fundamental role photography and photographers have played in recording the last two centuries in Britain – not only major social changes and historic moments, but also everyday life,” says John O’Shea, Senior Exhibitions Manager at the National Science and Media Museum.
“Equally the exhibition shows the development of photography over this time, pointing to the incredible pace that technology, technique and subject matter have advanced, as its popularity made it the medium of choice for people to view and record their lives.”
Britain in Focus: A Photographic History is a
BBC and National Science and Media Museum partnership. The exhibition continues at the Museum until June 25. It is free to enter. www.scienceand mediamuseum.org.uk
WASH DAY: Washing Line, Halifax, 1965, John Bulmer.