This unsmiling family group show yet another of the photographer’s tools - the diffuser. This would be used to soften fierce sunlight and eradicate harsh shadows. Whilst the mother and father collectively hold the child steady, the photographer’s assistant can be seen at the edge of frame holding the improvised diffuser. Usefully for us, the photographer has unintentionally captured not only the equipment, but also the assistant’s legs and the diffuser’s clear cast.
While the smile might be absent or restrained in early commercial seaside photography; tenderness is not. Surviving modest ambrotypes such as this of a mother and child on the steps of a bathing machine, counter connotations of the ambro’ and tintype as disposable shoreline amusement. Rather than cheap seaside ephemera, a revised consideration might be offered, whereby these modest portraits became important affordable keepsakes.
If seaside photography was taken for amusement, then somewhat paradoxically the three women seen in this ambrotype (sitting directly on the sand and in front of large bathing machine cartwheels) look far from amused. This is typical. These early beach portraits show the clients repeatedly dressed in their best clothes and despite the location of production, the Victorian sitter sought a dignified representation that echoed studio portraiture.
This ambrotype shows how norms are plastic and how these 19th century itinerant seaside images are an important material demonstration of representational shifts in portraiture. The couple, sitting closely together suggest a more relaxed presentation and in the woman we see a hint of a smile.
This ambrotype provides a good example of how the itinerant beach photographer would frame and complete the image. Often these 19th century seaside images were presented neatly through the use of thin flexible brass matte (often elaborately stamped) and then encased in simple, yet attractive painted wooden or papier mache frames. At the cheapest end of the market, tintypes (not ambrotypes) would be slipped or glued into light card sleeves.
This large family grouping provides an example of a key characteristic of the tintype image – that of lateral reversal. The image that we see is reversed in a similar way to a mirror image. This of course becomes most evident when text, as seen here in the nearby stall’s signage, is included in the final image.
The itinerant beach photographer was the first mass-producer of plein-air portraits and very quickly introduced seaside paraphernalia as ‘props’, seen here in the clinker-built boats signifying a coastal location. The two sitters we also see typify a fashionably confident pose of the day. They verge on the defiant in their informality and intimacy, indicated by lounging together on the pebbles and the male placing his arm fully around the shoulder of the female.
19th century examples of sitters wearing bathing costumes paradoxically have not been taken at the seaside, but rather at nearby portrait studios frequently situated close to the beach. This modest unframed tintype is perhaps an example of the studio bathing costume portrait at its most stark.
This studio portrait of a couple in bathing costumes whilst modest nevertheless seeks a more naturalistic mise-en-scene of faux beach, rock and driftwood and is then given further depth through the tromp l’oeil seascape backdrop. The rented bathing costumes bear the name of the photographer’s studio ‘H.J.Larkins’, but as a tintype seen here in lateral reverse.
Podcasts and videos showcasing AHRC-funded research.
Films, feature articles, podcasts and image galleries that showcase research from across our funded themes and programmes.
A selection of feature-length articles about different aspects of AHRC-funded research.
Digital Photograph 2015
Huge clustered pillars of Blue Purbeck Marble support the famous Gothic vaulting of Exeter Cathedral. A stratigraphy of other Purbeck stones can be found reconstructed throughout the floor: Grub, Blue Bit, New Vein, Leining Vein. Names echo a quarrying history, and a unique knowledge of stone.
Biafra conflict. Ogaba region. Fleeing fights, refugees flood the road from Aba to Umahia.
© ICRC / VATERLAUS, Max
Anindya Raychaudhuri is working on the way nostalgia is used by diasporic communities to create imaginary and real homes. He has written about the Spanish Civil War and the India/Pakistan partition and the cultural legacies of these wars. He co-hosts a podcast show, State of the Theory, and explores the issues raised by his research in stand-up comedy.
Christopher Kissane is a historian working on the role of food in history exploring what we can learn about societies and cultures through studying their diets, including what aubergines tell us about the changing tastes in food consumption. His book, which will be published later this year, examines food’s relationship with major issues of early modern society including the Spanish Inquisition and witchcraft.
Edmund Richardson is working on a book about the lost cities of Alexander the Great and the history of their discovery by adventurers and tricksters rather than scholars. His first book was on Victorian Britain and the ‘lowlife’ lived by magicians, con-men and deserters. His latest project is on Victorian ghost-hunters and their obsession with the ancient world which led Houdini to fight against the con-artists making a fortune from fake ‘spirits’.
Katherine Cooper is working on a project exploring the ways in which British writers including H.G.Wells, Graham Greene and Margaret Storm Jameson helped in the escape of fellow writers facing prosecution and imprisonment under fascist governments in the period between WW1 and WW2.
Leah Broad’s research is on Nordic modernism, exploring the music written for the theatre at the turn of the 20th century, taking her to Finland and Scandinavia to search out scores which have not been heard since the early 1900s. As a journalist Leah won the Observer/Anthony Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism in 2015. She is the founder of The Oxford Culture Review, a website communicating arts and humanities research and arts reviews.
Louisa Uchum Egbunike’s research centres on African literature in which she specialises in Igbo (Nigerian) fiction and culture. Her latest work explores the child’s voice in contemporary fiction on Biafra. She co-convenes an annual Igbo conference at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) and delivers a workshop, ‘Rewriting Africa’ in secondary schools across London. She is curating a ‘Remembering Biafra’ exhibition to open in 2018.
Sarah Jackson’s current research explores the relationship between the telephone and literature from the work of Arthur Conan Doyle to that of Haruki Murakami and why Sigmund Freud detested the telephone. The project involves research at the BT Archives which hold the public records of the world’s oldest communications company. She is also a poet whose collection Pelt won the prestigious Seamus Heaney Prize in 2012. She reads her poetry and fiction across the UK and USA.
Sean Williams is currently writing a cultural history of the hairdresser from the 18th century to the present day exploring their role as ‘outsiders’ in society. As a lecturer at the University of Berne in Switzerland he taught German and Comparative Literature and wrote articles on flatulence in the 18th century and contemporary satires of Hitler.
Seb Falk is a medieval historian and historian of science whose research centres on the scientific instruments made and used by monks, scholars and nobles in the later Middle Ages. His research has led him to make wood and brass models of the instruments he studies including the ‘equatorium’ and what it tells us about early scientific instruments. His new project will be an investigation of the sciences practised by medieval monks and nuns.
“Kamengeri was the shepherd for King Rwogera’s goats. He died because of these goats.
In the beginning there were so many. But people kept saying ‘please give me three goats in exchange for one cow.’ And Kamengeri relented. So it went on until there were not many goats.”
“Someone told the King that Kamengeri was exchanging goats. The King called him to his palace and said: ‘If you were me and someone betrayed you, what would you do?’
Kamengeri replied: ‘I would tell the people to heat a rock with wood until it becomes red. And then I would burn that person.’ ‘Well’, said the King…
It took one month to make the rock glow red with heat.”
“My grandfather told me this story when I was ten years old, surrounded by children like I am today. My grandfather was among the guardians of the king. His father knew Kamengeri.
Now I am 84 years old and a survivor of genocide. I have many grandchildren and some of them also have children.”
“The interahamwe militia broke into this school in March 1997 and asked the students to separate into Hutu and Tutsi. This was three years after genocide. The students responded: ‘We are all Rwandans’. Then the men began shooting.
Six students were killed in their classroom. They have become national heroes.”
“When the killings happened I was twelve years old. At the time there was a bad environment with people coming back from Congo into the forests near here. I lived nearby so I heard the shooting.
Much later I became a teacher here. Today we have three hundred students.”
“One of the students is buried beside the school.
If I could speak to the dead I would say ‘thank you for your heroism’. Sometimes I visit the grave on my own to be calm. I feel sorrow and happiness. I imagine what the children would be like now if they were alive.”
“This is the house where I lived with my husband for over fifty years. I remember our twenty fifth wedding anniversary here – after that we stopped counting!
We celebrated with our family. There was urwagwa and other local beers, singing and clapping. The house was full of people.”
“I was fifteen when I got married. I don’t know what I looked like then – I had no mirror and no cameras so I don’t remember!
My husband was handsome inside and outside. We lived together until he died after the genocide. It was very peaceful. We never had any fights.”
“My husband was a butcher. He sold meat from a table in town. We had twelve children together…
Today I still walk into town. It takes me a bit longer than before.”
“My first memory of this place is praying in the church and praising God. I was eight. I prayed for amahoro – peace – for the country and for my family.
My other memory is always of the perpetrators and what happened in this church.”
“In April 1994 the genocide began. Many fled here because we thought in church nobody could be killed. The genocidaires waited. Not out of pity but so that as many people as possible would gather. Then they killed everyone.
My elder sister and her children were killed in this church. Her three children and grandchildren. You can’t say anything… It was night.”
“I’ve been in the church choir since 1970. There are only three or four people remaining from that time.
In 1996 it was difficult to start singing again. It took courage. The choir means that Rwanda is unity. We don’t think about anything else apart from God and the sound we’re making.”
“This is the commercial centre of Butare. It was made by the Arabs in the 1920s so it’s sometimes called the ‘Arab Quarter’.
Today the old shops are being torn down to make way for new buildings.”
“I grew up in exile in Congo. When I returned home I studied at the National University of Rwanda here in Butare. I walked along this road to the university every day for five years.
Now the buildings are disappearing, I want to keep the memories. So I photograph the changing city.”
“In Kinshasa we lived on the 7th floor in the centre of town, near the port of the river Congo.
When I walk along this road today I remember life in Congo. The replacement buildings that will be built many stories high are like the place I used to live."
From left, Theft (Stephen Docherty), Falsehood (Barrie Hunter), and Deceit (Jimmy Chisholm). Flattery (Billy Riddoch) acts as hangman. And, as Falsehood dies, a raven (bottom left) flies up ‘as if it were his soul’, as the script demands. The Three Estates is a complex, uneasy play which explores how notions of Scottish nationhood, politics, national character and identity were debated at a seminal moment in history, the decades prior to the Reformation. It retains the power to touch nerves in contemporary Scotland and speak to issues of pressing importance, not least at moments when national identity, good governance, the causes and consequences of poverty, and the moral responsibilities of governors and churchmen are once again at the forefront of the (inter)national conversation.
With over 270 books nominated for our poll of the UK's favourite nature book, we spoke to researcher Dr Pippa Marland about the spectrum of UK nature books
A University of Leeds-led project to help young people whose lives have been affected by conflict will showcase how the arts and humanities can help those in need.
All humanities researchers are entrepreneurs, according to Dr John Miles. And he argues that doing a PhD in the arts and humanities equips you with vital skills for work in – or out – of academia.
An in-depth look at two of the eight scholars from Iraq who were awarded a scholarship for two months to attend training or undertake research at a UK host institution.
The Creative Industries Clusters (CIC) programme is the right way to boost the sector, according to Lord Finsbury, the man who led the 1998 Government taskforce that first identified the economic value of the creative industries.
In 1927 the Musicians’ Union was active on several fronts to support members’ interests. It resisted reductions in pay following the General Strike and fought against harsh conditions of service when, for example, some cinema owners insisted their orchestras play seven days a week. However, to achieve its aims, the Union needed sufficient income to employ officials and organise members; but those very members resisted moves to raise the subscription.
The competition that civilian musicians faced from military bands in public parks and seaside resorts increased in the summer months. A year later, in the summer of 1929, however, this would seem a less menacing challenge than the rush by many exhibitors to install pre-recorded sound in their cinemas.
In cinemas, the Panatrope was a two-turntable gramophone with amplified output which allowed operators to play a pre-recorded soundtrack for silent films. Like the more satisfactory systems that reproduced sound recorded on film (represented here by the American salesman, frame right), it threatened the livelihoods of musicians who accompanied films in cinemas. A related article attacked the technology being introduced in Britain and claimed that "the public cannot live on 'canned' music all the time any more than on canned pork."
This front-cover image entitled, “The Key To The Situation” directed musicians to an article advising them to join the Musical Performers Protection Association. However, the company was to fail in its objectives of collecting fees from recorded music. Nor did it reverse the takeover by sound films. Although too few talkies were produced in 1929-30 to fill cinemas’ programmes completely, the studios persuaded owners to meet the cost of conversion by focusing on the prospect of increased takings and cutting out musicians’ wages.
“Keep Blowing Boys.” This cover image introduced an article designed to raise players’ morale. The piece argued that the failings of talkies were so obtrusive that the fad could not last. For example, it alleged, someone other than the actor has to do the talking. For that reason the actor works with his or her back to camera to conceal the fact that the voice and the movement of the performer’s lips do not synchronise.
Reflecting the accelerating pace of converting cinemas for sound, this cartoon’s prediction for 1930 relied on a counterattack that instrumentalists thought incontrovertible. In October 1929, few filmgoers would have disagreed that the quality of mechanical sound reproduction was far inferior to live music. But the riposte sidestepped two key facts: sound systems were improving fast and, more significantly, that autumn British audiences, no matter the music’s quality, were flocking to the latest sensation, the talkies.