In 1871, Dr Richard L. Maddox invented the dry plate
, a glass plate coated in a light-sensitive material that could be stored and used later. This invention meant that photographers could travel further, and transport their photographic materials without the need to coat and develop them as soon as they were taken. Because of this, it was no longer needed to travel with, or have a darkroom, which also meant that it was possible for individuals to buy a pack of dry plates, use them at home and have them developed elsewhere, reducing the cost of taking photographs significantly.
The first set of images is a collection of found glass plates brought to us by Calvin Morgan from Aberbargoed. The plates is a series of candid family photographs taken by a family in Lincoln (one images is a photograph of family member’s picture taken at the Geo Hadley studio, Lincoln which existed between 1885 and 1900), and unlike normal studio photographs from the period, show the family relaxed, smiling and having fun at home. The images we usually see from the 19th century were taken in a studio and are quite static and look more serious and sombre (due in part to the long exposure times needed in early photography). The new dry plates were more sensitive than other traditional materials and it was possible to use quicker shutter speeds and take “snapshots”.
The second series of images is a collection of portraits of visitors to the gallery, and people in Pontypool, which recreate the slower and more static-style studio photography of the early photography period. Each portrait is taken on a large format 8x10 camera, photographic paper and developed using a reversal process which creates a unique and un-reproducible b/w portrait. We will continue taking portraits during the exhibition growing it as it progresses. At the end of the exhibition, each sitter will get to keep their portrait.
“1871” is the eighth in a series of 9 exhibitions organised in 76m2 by the*kickplate*project, with the support from the Arts Council of Wales, Torfaen Council’s Arts Development and Pontypool Community Council.
7th November – 25th November
Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 – 18:00
2 Portland Buildings