Friday 29 January 2016

Essay on Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron
Victoria and Albert Museum
28 November 2015 – 21 February 2016


Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy
Media Space, Science Museum
24 September 2015 – 28 March 2016

The aspects of her photography for which Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79) is most celebrated are – and indeed always have been – those for which she is also most criticised, namely her imprecision, lack of focus, and deliberately vague, artistic subject matter. Regardless of one’s opinion on her style, however, Cameron’s impact on the development of the medium and its acceptance as an art form cannot be denied. She was the first photographer who took repeated advantage of the Copyright Bill of 1862, paying one shilling per picture to register some 505 of her photographs, and, in 1868, she became the first “artist in residence” at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum), when its then director, Sir Henry Cole, allowed her to use two rooms as a studio. Her experimental techniques and penchant for scratching or drawing on to the negative, as well as her deliberate use of smudges and swirls, from applying an excess of collodion, render her resultant imagery poetic and alluring, far removed from documentary style. Indeed, Cameron herself acknowledged in a letter to her friend and mentor, Sir John Herschel, at the end of 1864: “My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty.”

Read the rest of this essay here

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