Peter James was an instrumental figure in British photography, establishing an outstanding collection of photography at the Library of Birmingham over his 26-year career at the institution, and researching and curating exhibitions at the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Galley, the Library of Birmingham, and many more. He was also a modest and affable man, universally known as Pete and as at home over a curry as in a lecture hall delivering an academic paper. As Hilary Roberts, research curator at the Imperial War Museum, put it in a tribute on James’ Facebook page: “Pete has been a wonderful friend and exceptional colleague for more years than I can remember. His contribution to the world of photography cannot be overstated. It was a privilege to work with him and I will miss him more than I can say.”
“The British Landscape…is a long-term ongoing project about the enormous changes that have taken place in the UK – the world’s first industrial society and the first to de-industrialise,” says John Davies. “Much of Britain’s infrastructure and the rapid expansion of industrial cities were created through the unprecedented growth of the Industrial Revolution. By the early 1980s, when I started this project, many of these large-scale industries and industrial communities were in terminal decline.”
Marking the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest signed by King Henry III, and corresponding with the launch of the 2017 Charter for Trees, Woods and People, the V&A’s new display Into The Woods: Trees in Photography, celebrates the significance of trees in the work of photographers across the world and throughout history.
The exhibition is comprised of works from the V&A’s permanent collection as well as photographs recently transferred from the Royal Photographic Society ahead of their rehousing in the museum’s new Photography Centre in 2018. Curated by Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, Into The Woods began as an impulse – “I just like trees!” – but gradually revealed itself to be the germ of a great idea.
“It’s got nothing to do with Brexit or Europe!” says curator Greg Hobson. “I think we can’t begin to understand that yet. It’s just being addressed by photographers now. We’re discussing the exhibition A Green and Pleasant Land – British Landscape and the Imagination: 1970s to Now, which he’s curated with Brian Cass, head of exhibitions at Towner Art Gallery, and which recently opened at the Towner. Including over 100 works by 50 artists (52 if you count the people in duos separately), it’s a major survey of the land we live on and how photographers have shown it, including image-makers such as John Blakemore, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Fay Godwin, John Davies, Paul Graham, and Theo Simpson.
Tate was famously slow to institutionalise photography, staging its first photography show (Cruel + Tender: The real in the 20th century photography) in 2003, and appointing its first photography curator, Simon Baker, in 2009. Now, hot on the heels of its acquisition of Martin Parr’s 12,000-strong photobook collection, its now made another major commitment to photography, appointing Kate Bush in the new post of Adjunct Curator of Photography. Bush, who was previously Head of Photography at the Science Museum Group, and prior to that Head of Art Galleries at the Barbican Centre in London, starts at Tate Britain in October.
Martin Parr has found a permanent home for the foundation he set up in 2014, giving visitors access to his archive and to his formidable collection. “I’ve been very lucky,” he told BJP’s Gemma Padley. “I have secured a very good living from doing this, and so the foundation is a great way to feed some of that back into the system.”
The V&A’s new Photography Centre will open in Autumn 2018, and the institution has now released a CGI render of what will be one of its showcase spaces – The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery.
The shortlisted images for “the global award in photography and sustainability” go on show at the V&A this month, including work by Thomas Ruff, Rinko Kawauchi and many more
The British curator spent 12 formative years working at the V&A. And in the 12 years since, she’s done the opposite, moving from post to post either side of the Atlantic, including senior directorial and curator positions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Media Museum and ICP. She has written numerous books, including two notable surveys, The Photograph as Contemporary Art (2004) and Photography is Magic (2015). This article was first published in BJP’s April issue, available from www.thebjpshop.com My first encounters with photography were through my parents, who are furniture historians and had a photo studio at home. I loved the precision and drama of the photo shoot, even when the subject was just a chair! My dad took me to see an exhibition of pre-Revolution Russian photography at Oxford’s MoMA when I was a teenager. This was when I fell in love with photography. I look back at my years at the V&A as a time of incalculable learning. I learnt how to communicate, how to be helpful, to …
Designed by David Kohn Architects, the new centre will open in Autumn 2018 and more than double the V&A’s current photography exhibition space. The opening will be accompanied by a museum-wide photography festival, a new digital resource, and a new history of photography course run with the Royal College of Art. The V&A plans to run events and activities in the new centre, and will continue to expand the facility. Phase Two will see the museum add more gallery space, and create a teaching and research facility, a browsing library, and a studio and darkroom which will enable photographers’ residencies. The new centre comes as the V&A transfers the Royal Photographic Society’s collection from the Science Museum Group, which was formerly held in the National Media Museum in Bradford. The transfer adds over 270,000 photographs, 26,000 publications, and 6000 pieces of equipment to the V&A’s holdings – which was already one of the largest and most important in the world, including around 500,000 works collected since the foundation of the museum in 1852. The RPS collection includes …