© 2013 Fourtoes lamp

A working holiday?

I’m working in the North East of England for a few days, I cant tell you what I’m doing unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a while. I’ve been put up in the Holiday Inn, Steph has gone to Portugal to visit her family, so I’m twiddling my thumbs a little. I was planning a fun weekend, filling in health and safety forms for work but sadly forgot the memory stick that all my data was on…..

So yesterday I went to Tynemouth Market, visited an old Uni friend Richard in Newcastle, popped into the Baltic Mill and the Side Gallery. Not sure why I keep giving the Baltic the time of day I never really enjoy it. The Side Gallery on the other hand has an excellent exhibition on at the moment.

STREET LIFE, INSTANTANEOUS

Photographs of Newcastle in the 1890s

Photographer Aaron Guy, researching the archive at Newcastle’s North of England Mining Institute, stumbled on a set of remarkable glass plate negatives belonging to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. A trail led to the Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn, where other boxes had been deposited and a set of fascinating photographs began to emerge of Newcastle street life in the early 1890s, largely taken with hand-held cameras. They strongly resembled the known work of Edgar G Lee, which Side Gallery had shown in the 1980s.

Edgar Lee was a respected Tyneside photographer and lantern slide maker, with a professional studio in Newcastle’s Eldon Square, who also made his own hand-held cameras with the fast exposure dry plates that had been patented by the Tyneside inventor Joseph Swan. It is possible that fellow members of the highly regarded Newcastle upon Tyne and Northern Counties Photographic Association are also represented in the Society of Antiquaries boxes, alongside those that can with certainty be attributed to Lee. There is an Edgar Lee photograph of a group on what appears to be a day out, photographing the poor of Newcastle’s Quayside – after the Swing Bridge was built, many of the families of the once prosperous Keelmen fell into destitution and provided ready subject matter. The renowned Hexham photographer John Pattison Gibson promoted Edgar Lee’s work, advertising his lantern slides for sale as CHILD LIFE IN THE SLUMS and STREET LIFE, INSTANTANEOUS. Fast exposure plates and hand-held cameras were offering photographers an immediacy in capturing the moment, laying the technogical ground for the development of documentary in the C20th. In the late C19th the North East of England was at the heart of taking these things forward.

Together with Aaron Guy, Side Gallery has curated an exhibition of photographs, a number of which have not been published or exhibited before. There were negatives of other pictorialist subjects in the collection, but the exhibition focuses on the street life of Newcastle upon Tyne, including fascinating images of Sandgate, Milk Market and the Quayside areas of the city. The images are drawn from the collection of the Society of Antiquaries, held at the Mining Institute and the Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn. 2013 is the bicentenary of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.”

The prints they have made are great. Theres one or two outstanding examples. I’m waiting to see if theres a publication following this exhibition. If you go, keep an eye out for the “Elephant” plate. Amazing!

Today, Sunday, is car boot day. For the non UK blog readers a car boot sale is a little like a garage or table sale.

Why they start so ridiculously early I have no idea. We are talking 7 am?…. on a Sunday?…. Madness. Usually when I get there, people are already packing up! So it was good to find one at Seaham that started at the decent time of Midday. Makes so much more sense.

Now I usually get a few decent bits and pieces but recently they seem to be 99% kids fluffy and plastic toys? Out of so many stalls all I could find of any use was this lovely little glass oil lamp for varnishing plates. Oh well. £1 well spent. Oh and I had an ice cream. Mmmmm.

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2 Comments

  1. Tricia woodhouse
    Posted August 25, 2013 at 8:45 PM | #

    Hi Tony, wow fabulous piece…..made me quite homesick! Love the Side Gallery, loved the history of those local early photographers…thank you! Also what a nice little find at the car boot sale. Enjoy your time in Newcastle, you lucky thing :)

  2. Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:03 PM | #

    Hi Trish, Yep the Side Gallery is real good. And it was good to see Richard and his family again. I’ll be back up this way again second week in Sept. How about you fly back over, we can have a port and Scrabble night.

    Tony

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