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Read, Watch and Listen

Mother and Child on a Bathing Machine, Ambrotype

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.

Child Labour Free Street Art

Child Labour Free Street Art - This mural was completed as part of the Shoreditch Art Wall and supported the launch of the UK branch of the organisation, Child Labour Free. It was revealed on the World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June 2016 alongside the sale of limited edition t-shirts with the designs of the mural. The proceeds of this went to the development of the Child Labour Free child care centre, which helps children in red light districts in Kolkata, India.

Artist: Victoria Villasana and Zabou.

Country: United Kingdom.

Rights: Image courtesy of Maureen Barlin and Shoreditch Street Art Tours.

Find out more by visiting http://rightsandjustice.nottingham.ac.uk/items/show/91.

Image of Harriet Bell (wife) with barbed wire

Commutation tests (Barthes, 1967) were an integral part of the design process, identifying the characteristics and differences of individual signifiers within a paradigm or syntagym and defining their significance. Applying this within the textile practice involved changing a visual signifier (e.g. image or colour) and examining if this altered the meaning of the elements it was grouped with. Existing signifiers were also rearranged into new configurations to determine if different meanings were created. 

Three Women by a Bathing Machine, Ambrotype circa 1870

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.


Release - This mural is part of the ‘Handle with Care Project’, a Dallas-based organisation that is dedicated to fighting slavery through the arts.  'Release' is the central piece in a city-wide mural project 'Deface a Wall Not a Body'. The birds that are released in this mural are then painted all around Dallas. The birds symbolise survivors being released from captivity and rebuilding their lives over time.

Artist: James Bullough.

Country: USA.

Rights: Image courtesy of James Bullough.

Find out more by visiting http://rightsandjustice.nottingham.ac.uk/items/show/93.

Textile trials for ‘The Ties That Bind (II)’

Responses to the first triptych revealed that further textile qualities were needed to contrast with the two-dimensional printed cloth, so flocking and greater use of stitch and applique were trialled to give additional surface textures. Viewers’ predominantly associated the small white crosses in the first triptych with graves; so larger decorative examples were incorporated in the second triptych to connote Christianity. Redundant signifiers such as WW1 bombs and warships were also trialled.

Couple on the Sands, Ambrotype

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.​