It's been another very busy period since our last Newsletter including the AIC Photographic Materials Group Winter Meeting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in March and the second meeting of the fledgeling Photographic Materials Conservation Group at The Public Record Office, Kew in May. Also in May and again in October the Moor's were in the Netherlands at the National Photographic Conservation Studios. In the Autumn they spent several weeks in Spain where a disastrous flood in Barcelona saw them supervising the recovery of three major photographic collections from six feet of dirty water.
Friends who would like to hear more about this trip please call, write, fax or email for a China Update.
"Angelatype" On a less studious note the collection also includes several "Angelatypes" named thus by Roy Flukinger, Curator of Photography at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre in Austin Texas. These positive images, produced on a pewter plate using Bitumen of Judea, were the result of one of a number of experiments Angela Moor undertook whilst at HRHRC in 1989. The images exhibit a wonderful warmth and colour which are not present in Niecéphore Niépce's Heliographs produced from the same materials, the earliest of which is in the HRHRC's Gernsheim Collection. Angela maintains that she could not repeat this particular experiment without the 80% humidity and blazing sun which Austin has in abundance. This might be true, or, it could just be an excuse to return to Austin of which she has very fond memories of the five months spent there in 1989.
Jean, a pacifist, spent the war years working for the Ministry of Supply and at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. At the same time Jean established a general commercial photography business, Photo-Union Ltd., which operated from a 300 year old building in Soho Square.
The majority of the 20,000+ glass and sheetfilm negatives and prints are from the Photo-Union period and also "The Academy of Visual Arts" 1951-1970. The Photo-Union material apart from the hundreds of photographs of Britain in the 1940s includes industrial, architectural, fashion, genre and general photographic studies. "The Academy of Visual Arts" photographs are predominantly nude studies.
Jean himself specialised in portraiture with the exciting, individualistic lighting which was his special contribution to camera work. It was in these post-war years that he first produced "Photo-essays", themes illustrated by the miniature camera.
Jean was a prominent member of the Camera Club, an association of professional and amateur photographers. Jean exhibited regularly, work ranging from portraiture to landscape. Abandoning commercial photography in 1951 Jean set up The "Academy of Visual Arts". Members had access to exhibitions resulting from its program of lecture-demonstrations. These were illustrative of topics such as lighting, classical posses, analysis and re-working in a photographic context the subjects of the old masters, Rembrandt, Poussin and Velasquez. Rembrandt, for his use of light, was particularly admired by Jean. Ref.1. Amongst the commissions he undertook during the '50's was for the "London Festival Ballet".
In the 60's falling foul of British Censorship Law Jean was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, he lost the case but on appeal to The House of Lords this conviction was squashed. This case lead to changes in the Censorship Laws in 1965.
Images are also held by; The Museum of London, The National Museum of Photography Film and Television and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Ian and Angela Moor are on the Board of Trustees of the Jean Straker Trust. Public access to the collection is restricted because of limited space at The Centre. With a growing interest in the collection the Trustees are seeking a permanent repository to allow unrestricted research facilities.
Ref.1 Charles Skilton published 'The Nudes of Jean Straker'
Fig.1 A view of part of the main studio looking through to the wet area beyond
Fig.2 Students on the Rediscovering Historic Photographic Processes course relaxing in the garden at The Centre in preparation for a Calotype group portrait.
Fig.3 Densitometer readings about to be taken from historic print process samples produced on the course that have undergone a light stability test.
The Centre offers a programme of both short and long training courses in aspects of photographic preservation and conservation.
A five day course providing the opportunity to experience and develop an understanding and the manipulative skills needed to produce historic photographic processes including the photogenic drawing, calotype, salted paper print, cyanotype and the albumen print.
A three day course covering the identification, causes of degradation, handling and storage of photographic materials: aimed specifically for those with the care and responsibility for photographic collections: Keepers, Curators, Librarians Archivists Conservators et al.
This two day course for curators, conservators, slide librarians and photographers, will look at the factors affecting the stability, preservation, treatment and storage of these extremely problematic materials.
Course dates 1st-3rd May 1996
Course Fee £240.00 plus V.A.T.
Anita Bools Roberts. Regional Conservator, National Trust.
Stephen Harwood. Photographic Conservator, Public Record Office. (Treasurer)
Angela Moor. The Centre for Photographic Conservation, (Program Secretary)
David Parker. Conservation Officer, Public Record Office. (Hon. Secretary)
Angela Thompson. Photographic Conservator, National Gallery.
Chris Woods. Archive Conservator, Dorset Record Office. (Chair)
Interim Articles of Agreement where also set up and the name proposed originally, European Photographic Materials Conservation Group, was changed by majority decision.
The next meeting of the group is on the 21st March 1996 at the Museum and Galleries Commission, Queen Anne's Gate, London.
For further information please contact: David Parker, C/o Conservation Dept', The Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU.Telephone 0181-876 3444 Facsimile 0181-878 8905.
The Moor's worked upon the Ed Van der Elsken collection one of the collections originally surveyed by them in 1992 as part of the initial stages of the Delta Plan. Because of the nature and variety of the conservation problems posed by this collection, on a practical, aesthetic and ethical level, the proposed conservation treatment program made an ideal project for photographic conservation students to observe and participate in and could be used to further the training of photographic conservators in the Netherlands.
The Van der Elsken collection comprises his models for "A love on the left bank", "Bagara", and "Sweet Life". The photographs, mat and ferrotyped gelatine bromide prints, mounted both sides of low grade art card have been heavily used, and by virtue of the fact that it is a working artefact, altered repeatedly by Van der Elsken as he made his final selection and again by the printers as they produced the finished publications, it exhibits the kinds of extensive physical damage one would expect.
Van der Elsken's images are powerful. The original images contained in the models and the form and presentation of their make-up illustrate beautifully the creative process.
Ref. 2. Going Upstream: A Travel Against World Politics, Hans Christiaan" de Herder. The Imperfect Image: Photographs Their Past, Present and Future" ISBN 0-9521393-0-8
The Reports by the Juries was published in 1852 in eight volumes, printed by W. Clowes and Sons for Spicer Brothers, Wholesale Stationers, London. The volumes are sumptuously bound by Riviere in red morocco and are extensively illustrated with engravings and also 154 salted paper prints, printed by Robert J. Bingham in France. As a gesture of goodwill William Henry Fox Talbot the inventor of the Calotype process by which some of the images were produced, relaxed his Patent to enable the publication to appear illustrated with photographic prints. Talbot had also expected to be commissioned to undertake the printing of the images, to be done by Nicholaas Henneman in the Regent Street studio, however, Robert Bingham, who worked for and was trained by Henneman, negotiated the printing rights privately with The R.S.A. much to Talbot's and Henneman's chagrin.
The volumes not only carry the monogram of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert they are also ascribed to the Society, Presented by Her Majesty's Commissioners for the Exhibition of M.D.CCC.LI. To the Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
The R.S.A has one other connection with the birth of Photography it was the venue for the inaugural meeting of The Photographic Society of London, later to become The Royal Photographic Society, which took place there on the 20th January 1853.
Angela Moor inititally went out to Barcelona to set up and supervise the recovery operation. Material that could not be recovered immediately was prepared for freezer storage, prior to futher treatment.