‘It may amuse you mother to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater’, Julia Norman…A Cartography of Dreams 14 October 2016 – 1 January 2017
Dimbola Museum & Galleries
Artists Paul Biddle, Tami Bone, Jonah Calinawan and Fran Forman
Produced by Maxine Watts, Reclaim Photography Festival in association with Dimbola Museum & Galleries.
“Dreams are true while they last. And do we not live in dreams?” Alfred Lord Tennyson
In this exhibition, four photographers set out to answer this question posed by Alfred Lord Tennyson some 150 years ago. Their artistic exploration maps the contours of their dreams and imaginations—much like cartographers outlining the shorelines and mountains of a new continent. For what are dreams, but a map to move us forward on a quest for understanding?
Exhibition members were invited by One Twelve Publishing to discuss an image or photographer who has influenced their passion for photography. In Poignant Pics No. 11, Maxine talks about one image by Julia Margaret Cameron that still holds the same power today, as it did when she first discovered photography.
‘It may amuse you mother to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater’, Julia Norman…
Julia Margaret Cameron // Unknown Woman or Madonna // England // March 1868 // Albumen Print // © Wilson Centre for Photography
Julia Margaret Cameron was given her first camera by her first child and only daughter, Julia Norman, at the end of 1863, when she was forty-eight years old. This is one of the few portraits that Julia Margaret Cameron made of her daughter, and it takes on a special poignancy for me given her subsequent death during childbirth.
This is a portrait which embodies all of the qualities I adore about Julia Margaret Cameron’s work. Although we are unable to look into the eyes of Julia Norman, her face, shrouded in a dark robe, draped delicately in light and shadow, portrays a melancholic quality, evoking a sense of sadness, loss and regret through the penetrating intensity of the image.
On a technical level, this is an incredibly accomplished use of lighting and it also demonstrates her proficiency in controlling the lens. This is an image which sits in striking contrast to the softer, and more flattering lighting images of her portraits of family and friends, studies of fair women and heroic men, and her illustrations for Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’.
Julia Margaret Cameron was the first female photographer whose work I discovered when I began my photography studies at college, and I would often compare and contrast her artistry and imagination with that of the contemporary female portrait photographers I went on to discover such as Imogen Cunningham and Cindy Sherman.
Her dying word was ‘beautiful, which perfectly encapsulates the essence of this portrait.
Maxine Watts is the Artistic Director of Reclaim Photography Festival. She is also a lecturer living and working in the West Midlands (UK). Maxine studied Photography at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design. She also received a First Class Honours degree in Post Compulsory Education, at the University of Wolverhampton, for her research related to the pedagogy, identity and expertise of teaching photography in an FE context.
Maxine is deeply interested in the social narrative of photography, the events, people and places, past and present, who invite us to share their stories through the images they inhabit.
Maxine is currently organising the 2017 Reclaim Photography Festival: Reclaiming our Cultural Landscapes. She has recently produced the group exhibition A Cartography of Dreams for Dimbola Museum and Galleries, the former home of Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, with artists: Paul Biddle, Tami Bone, Jonah Calinawan and Fran Forman. www.reclaimphotographyfestival.org
Julia Margaret Cameron // Annie (Philpot) My First Success // England // 29 January 1864 // Albumen Silver Print from Glass Negative // Copyright The J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Julia Margaret Cameron // Iago, Study of an Italian // England // 1867 // Albumen Print // Copyright National Media Museum, Bradford
Julia Margaret Cameron // The Rosebud Garden of Girls // England // June 1868 // Albumen Silver Print // Copyright The J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angele
Julia Margaret Cameron // Untitled // Sri-Lanka (Ceylon) // September 1875 // Albumen Print // J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
For more information please visit: onetwelvepublishing.com/category/poignant-pics