Hi, I’m Helen and my Museum Futures traineeship is taking place at the Garden Museum, Britain's only museum dedicated to the art, history and design of gardens.
In my first two months I have been immersed into the world of museum work, from understanding the procedures followed to ensure objects in the collection easy to identify to how public events are programmed and executed. As part of my core work I’m been looking through and beginning to digitise some of the Museum’s collection and archive of garden design.
We are all naturally curious and I have become particularly fascinated by the large selection of photographic portraits of people in their gardens which the Museum has in the collection. These are not only charming images but give an insight in to historical gardening practices and social customs in a range of gardens: public parks to private kitchen gardens, grand greenhouses to common backyards.
To digitise the photographs I have been working with a flatbed Epson scanner and Epson scan software. Scanning at 600dpi has created high quality images where every detail can be seen and I have focused on getting the colour as well as alignment of the image as correct as possible to ensure an accurate represent the object without the need for a lot of editing. Here I present ten of my favorite portraits that I’ve discovered and digitised so far.
All taken around the turn of the century, these images reflect a time when improvements in technology allowed photography to be more widely available. Invented by Richard Leach Maddox in 1871 and improved by Charles Harper Bennett in 1978, the gelatin sliver process was more light sensitive than previous photographic methods, needing only a fraction of a second in exposure time. The increase in speed at which photographs could be taken, allowed for the development of handheld cameras such as the first Kodak camera in 1888. The simplicity and relatively low cost of handheld cameras enabled amateurs as well as professionals to take portraits.
In this mixture of professional and amateur shots, we see a range of sitters in a formal manner, typical of the time, prepared and proud to be photographed in the garden.
Can you tell us more about these images? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org