The architectural and social transformation of the Granite City between the 1850s and 1940s is captured in a new exhibition at the University of Aberdeen
Photographic prints taken from glass plate negatives from the collection of George Washington Wilson and the Aberdeen Harbour Board will go on display at the Gallery in the new University library on Saturday (March 24).
Entitled Set in Silver: Contemporary Reflections on Glass Plate Photography the exhibition includes images of iconic Aberdeen landmarks such as Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen Music Hall, Municipal Building at Mercat Cross and Marischal College.
The prints come from the original fragile photographic plates made from glass, with the image retained in a silver solution that rests delicately on the surface.
Many of the photographs were taken by Aberdonian George Washington Wilson (1823-93), who became established in the 1850s as an 'artist and photographer'.
Wilson took his camera all over the world but retained his links to the Granite City, and his vast collection was eventually offered to the University of Aberdeen.
Others come from the Aberdeen Harbour Board and these are augmented by items borrowed from private and public collections such as the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums.
These include a painted self-portrait of George Washington Wilson as a young man as well as the Glengarry Bonnet belonging to the photographer which he frequently used as a makeshift shutter for his camera in the very early days of the medium.
Siobhán Convery, Head of Special Collections at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The images document the architectural, infrastructural and societal transformations experienced by the city during this period, revealing a portrait of Aberdeen as a distinctive and elegant industrial city. They also demonstrate a distinctive application of this delicate art.
“Collectively, they highlight the legacy of this photographic medium, eloquently demonstrating the importance of glass plate photography as a viable and popular art and as well as a recorder of history.
“The exhibition also incorporates a selection of films produced by students of the Film and Visual Culture course at the University of Aberdeen, introducing contemporary moving image elements to the exhibition. The films document a contemporary version of the scenes evident in the featured photographs. In this way, the viewer will be able to observe the changes in the city and around the harbour area to the present day.”
The exhibition Set in Silver: Contemporary Reflections on Glass Plate Photography runs until June 3. Entry is free and the Gallery, on the ground floor of the library on Bedford Road, is open Monday to Thursday 10am to 7pm, Friday and Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 12noon to 4pm.
For more information, please contact Scott Byrne, Exhibitions & Public Programming Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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