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.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - ART -

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 me­di­a­mu­

WASH DAY: Wash­ing Line, Hal­i­fax, 1965, John Bul­mer.

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