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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

WORLD PHOTOBOOK DAY – The Photobook Club Brisbane events

with 3 comments

WPD Poster

WPD Poster

 

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For photobook people the 14th of October is World Photobook Day (WPD) and celebrations worldwide are coordinated through the Photobook Club group. On this day in 1843, the British Library catalogued Algae of the British Isles: Cyanotype Impressions by Anna Atkins, and is therefore considered historically significant as the first official record of a published photobook. In 2013 Victoria Cooper and I organised an event in Toowoomba. This year as part of my Siganto Foundation Artists’ Book Research Fellowship we arranged two events to take place at The Edge facility that is part of the SLQ.

 

World Photobook Day 2014 - Photo Doug Spowart - Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The E

The QCP WPB event

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The first event was arranged for Queensland Centre for Photography members to view contemporary photobooks, artists’ books, photo-zines and photo-papers from our collection. Around 30 publications, mainly by Australian photographers and artists, were presented to a group of around 18 participants. This selection included two books, Ying Ang’s Gold Coast and John Elliott’s Ju Raku En, which were launched only in the last few weeks. Staff members from the Australian Library of Art attended this opportunity to view examples of this emergent book genre.

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With Ying Ang's Gold Coast

With Ying Ang’s Gold Coast

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The main Photobook Club WPD event took place in the evening and was attended by around 24 participants. Each brought along their favourite photobook to share and discuss with their fellow attendees. The oldest book presented was a photographic portrait book from the 1860s, and the more recent books included, W Eugene Smith’s The BIG Book, Spada’s Gomorrah Girl, and Spottorno’s PIGS. Many participants contributed their own print on demand books, or bespoke handmade artists’ books thereby representing the spectrum of the photo and the book.

A special part of the evening WPD event was a presentation by Dr Gael E. Phillips about Anna Atkins, her family and motivations for her cyanotype work. Phillips, a local Brisbane resident, is a distant cousin of Atkins shared her extensive research of this significant family connection. The assembled group were presented with the fascinating story of Anna Atkins (‘Anna Children’ – her maiden name), her father – George, relatives and networks in photography, science and society in nineteenth century England. Two attendees Dr Marcel Saffier and Sandy Barrie both significant photo historians showed a strong interest in Phillip’s research and talk.

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Gael makes her Anna Atkins presentation

Gael makes her Anna Atkins presentation

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Apart from the two events we curated this year, two new South-East Queensland organisers also presented WPD events. This provides evidence that there is a strong interest in seeing, talking about, publishing and collecting photobooks.

As part of my Fellowship activities I’m scheduling further events to keep the interest in his research growing, and to promote a greater awareness of the significant resource of ‘the photograph and the book’ held by the State Library of Queensland.

Keep in touch…    Doug Spowart.

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Anna Atkins-Portrait 1861

Anna Atkins-Portrait 1861

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What follows is a precis of Dr Phillips’ presentation:

Anna Atkins (1799-1871) is now recognised as being the first person to publish a book using a photographic technique. This recognition has come late but is, I think, largely due to the work of Prof Larry Schaaf. My cousins, Jean Doggett, Elizabeth Parkes and I were also doing similar research at the same time because of a family link with the Children family. The Children family have been long established in Kent and trace their family back to Simon a Children in 1370.

Anna Atkins was born, Anna Children, her mother dying when she was a few months old, but she grew up in a wealthy household surrounded by family friends who included many of the great Gentlemen Scientists of the Regency period and later. These included Sir Humphry Davy, Dr W H Wollaston, Sir Joseph Banks, the Herschels and William Henry Fox Talbot. Her father, John George Children, was a well known scientist in the first half of the nineteenth century and his publications include descriptions of the largest electrical battery ever built, which he and his father constructed in their own laboratory at their home, Ferox Hall, in Tonbridge.

Following the failure of the Tonbridge Bank, George Children, Anna’s grandfather, was bankrupted. His properties were sold to pay the creditors of the bank. His son, John George Children, obtained a position at the British Museum, and appears in the painting of the Temporary Elgin Marble Room in 1819. Initially in the Antiquities Department, he later became the Keeper of Minerals and then the Keeper of Zoology.

Anna Children illustrated Lamarck’s ‘Genera of Shells’ which her father had translated. In 1825 Anna married John Pelly Atkins JP, and they made their home at Halstead Place. Mr Atkins was made High Sheriff of Kent for 1847.

In 1841 a Manual on British Algae was published. Anna used the Cyanotype process, newly invented by a close family friend, Sir John Herschel, to make numerous images of British seaweeds. The first volume appeared in 1843 and pre-dated William Henry Fox Talbot’s ‘Pencil of Nature’.

Anna’s father acted as an intermediary in her scientific endeavours, writing to Hooker at Kew Gardens about the progress of the imaging of the algae and Hooker, in turn, instructed Anna in botany. Her father’s chemical knowledge was invaluable in the production of the cyanotypes. Father and daughter had a very close relationship and when her father died on the first day of January 1852 she was grief stricken. Her Memoir of J G Children, privately published in 1853, was modestly signed AA, as were her volumes of cyanotypes of British seaweeds. The memoir includes poetry written by her grandfather, George, her father, John George and also poetry she herself wrote.

We celebrate the anniversary of the accessioning of the first of her volumes of cyanotypes into the Library of the British Museum. Anna Atkins, nee Children was an artist – she drew, she did lithography and was an author, writing poetry and the memoir of her father. She was also a scientific illustrator as well as being the first woman to produce a photo book and, many believe, the first woman photographer. She has no descendants but is memorialised in a beautiful mollusc, Anna Children’s lucine, Miltha childreni (Gray 1824). Her father is also memorialised in a number of animals, including molluscs and insects and the mineral Childrenite.

Gael E Phillips.
14 October 2014

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Doug makes a thankyou presentation to Gael

Doug makes a thankyou presentation to Gael

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Other images from the events…

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The Anna Atkins 'memorial' with Larry J Schaaf's book 'Sun Gardens'

The Anna Atkins ‘memorial’ with Larry J Schaaf’s book Sun Gardens

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

Looking at the books brought to the event

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

The artists’ photobook end of the books brought along by Adele Outeridge, Mel Brackstone and Jan Ramsay

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

Looking at W Eugene Smith’s BIG BOOK.

World Photobook Day Photobook Club event Brisbane @ The Edge Photo Doug Spowart

Checking out Jacob Raupatch’s newspaper

 

FOTO FRENZY’S WPD Event

With Doc Ross' book 37 @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

With Doc Ross’ book 37 @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

Ian Poole @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

Ian Poole @ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

@ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

@ the Foto Frenzy WPD event

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Until next year….

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pbc-logo-1

PBC logo

 

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3 Responses

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  1. sorry I missed that looks great, maybe next year.

    catherinemccueboes

    October 28, 2014 at 8:35 am

  2. Thank you for organizing such a wonderful event. A great selection of Photo Books presented in many different ways.

    jan ramsay

    November 1, 2014 at 6:40 am

  3. […] Previous WPBD events coordinated by Cooper+Spowart 2013 and 2014. […]


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