Exhibition Review JULIA MARGARET CAMERON: Influence and Intimacy

Exhibition Review

The Science Museum in South Kensington is now hosting an exhibition called “Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy”. Julia Margaret Cameron was a British photographer who was born in 1815 and died in 1879. She became known for her portraits of friends, acquaintances and celebrities of her time which were seen as different and almost controversial because of her rule-breaking approach where her photographs were “intentionally out of focus, and often including scratches, smudges and other traces of her process” (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/julia-margaret-cameron/julia-margaret-cameron-biography/).

The Science Museum was founded in 1857 and is known for its historic collections and exciting and memorable exhibitions. It features many inspiring shows and now a photography exhibition of Julia Cameron’s work. I personally find it interesting that this museum was chosen to host a photography show but as Cameron was one of the first photographers it links both innovation and art.

The exhibition features the artist’s “Herschel Album” with 94 photographs, which is considered as her best works. The portraits should show “the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man” (Julia Margaret Cameron). The exhibition does not only display Cameron’s art pieces but also her camera lens and letters between her and her mentor Sir John Herschel. He was her mentor, friend and admirer of her work which is why she dedicated a selection of her earlier works to him in the Herschel Album.

Most of Cameron’s work are portraits but she also staged photos after literature of Shakespeare or religious events in the Bible. Furthermore, the show features a few of her later works shot in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, from which only 30 photographs survived because of technical problems due to the hot climate there.

The room where the photographer’s work is displayed is a rectangle with brown and black walls. When you enter the single room of the show, you will find information about the artist and her life placed on a wall. In the middle of the room, there are white rectangular walls in different sizes arranged in a circular way. The portraits are displayed on those white walls and you make your way around them and go see the photographs on the inner side afterwards. Cameron’s pictures from Sri Lanka are placed outside of the circle on a brown wall which makes them separate from the portraits on the white walls. The photographs taken on the island features people and children and differ from her usual approach to people. I believe the curator wanted to connect Cameron’s earlier work and he or she approached the idea with the white walls in the centre and separate her later work from it with placing it on the outside. All photographs have a written explanation so the viewer gets information about the intentions of the photographer.

This exhibition celebrates the work of a great artist and pioneer in the art of photography between 1863-1879 which has an influence on modern practitioners. I personally really enjoyed the work and display of Julia Margaret Cameron’s art because it is structured and provides a clear view of the artist life and work. The show may interest everyone who is intrigued by photography and how it was approached in the early times of photography.

 

 

References

Sciencemuseum.org.uk,. ‘Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence And Intimacy’. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Vam.ac.uk,. ‘Julia Margaret Cameron – Victoria And Albert Museum’. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Vam.ac.uk,. ‘Julia Margaret Cameron: Biography – Victoria And Albert Museum’. N.p., 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

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