I recently visited four Photography Shows in London; two at the Science Museum, one in the V&A and one in the Photographers’ Gallery. One of the two shows at the Science Museum was a very well curated and well lit presentation of the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, the annotations were apt and informative and included photos and comments of her time in Ceylon at the family’s tea plantation. Interestingly, Cameron referred to the plantation workers in her images as “servant” or “group of people”, unlike her images of friends and family whom she gave substantial details. Also included in the exhibit was one of her lenses which provided an idea of how cumbersome and heavy her equipment must have been. The second show was by Alec Soth Sleeping by the Mississippi, an American Photographer, who’s display gave an eclectic set of amazing images of life in the USA.
The Julia Margaret Cameron show in the V&A I found to be a total contrast to that at the Science Museum; the light was poor and the layout made it difficult to negotiate the displays. The lights were so high in the gallery that at times it was impossible to read the annotations and although Cameron’s time in Ceylon was referenced, no images of that time were on display. I found this show disappointing and I have concerns for the future displays of what is now the central despository for photos in the UK
My third location was the excellent Photographers’ Gallery, just off Oxford Street, which hosted a Saul Leiter show; an excellent and engaging, well curated display of some fabulous 60’s high-gain colour photography. Entrance was just £3 and was very well attended. I had hoped to see the other two photography shows in the gallery and enjoy a coffee and soak-up the atmosphere in their coffee shop, but time was running short and I had a train to catch. It was a long (05:30 ~ 22:00), tiring day without a lunch stop, but I’ll do it again soon, perhaps for Photo London.