Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A New Scottish National Photography Gallery

 470 clergymen who founded the Free Church of Scotland
The Scottish National galleries are showing an exhibition of the work of Scottish photography pioneers,
Robert Adamson and David Hill – ‘Scottish Photography pioneers, A Perfect Chemistry. Fisherfolk of Newhaven,’
27th May to 1st October 2017, TE SCOTTISH PORTRAIT GALLERIES, Queen St, Edinburgh.

It has taken others overseas to recognise the work of these Scottish pioneers in photography. These two world renowned pioneers are mostly unknown in Scotland and are yet more reminders of the neglect of Scotland’s heritage.  

The Museum of Modern Art New York put on an exhibition Photography1930 – at the beginning of the show Hill and Adamson had pride of place as Photography pioneers. In 1989 The Huntarian Glasgow staged another exhibition of Hill and Adamson’s work, which came over from Saskatoon Canada, where it had been acclaimed.

The Scottish galleries hold the biggest collection of their work in the world, yet only exhibit their work every 15 years. In the 1840s Hill and Adamson were partners in the new science of Photography. Adamson portraits of clergymen documented the disruption in the Kirk with the Free church of Scotland. They worked in Rock house, Calton hill, producing portraits and also images of the Forth estuary and coast.

In the 1990s the Royal High school was considered for a new Scottish National Photography gallery  to include Annans, Gillanders, Calum Colvin and others.

**Scottish Artist David Hill 1802 – 1870), landscape painter
He formed Hill & Adamson studio with the photographer Robert Adamson
(1843 - 1847) pioneer photographer. He learned lithography at the school of Design Edinburgh. His landscape paintings exhibited Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland and he established Scottish Academy1829 with Henry Cockburn.

Pioneer Photographer Robert Adamson (1821–1848) pioneer photographer at Hill & Adamson. Best known for his work with artist David Hill at his photographic studio Rock House Calton hill. Hill and Adamson were commissioned in 1843 to make a group portrait of the 470 clergymen who founded the Free Church of Scotland. Hill had desired to make photographic portraits of the founders as reference material.

Adamson’s collaboration with Hill, who provided skill in composition and lighting, and Adamson’s dexterity with the camera, proved extremely successful. They used the calotype process, and produced a wide range of portraits depicting well-known Scots.

They photographed Fife landscapes, urban scenes, the Scott Monument under construction; 
the fishermen of Newhaven and the fishwives who carried the fish in creels the 3 miles (5 km) uphill to the city of Edinburgh to sell them round the doors, with their cry of “Caller Herrin”
They produced groundbreaking "action" photographs of soldiers and two priests walking side by side.

They produced some 3000 calotypes of mostly portraits within 5 years, 1843 – 1847.
Adamson died unmarried on 14 January 1848, at the age of 26.

In 1851, the works of Hill & Adamson's appeared at The Great Exhibition.
It wasn't until 1872 that their work was rediscovered. In 1905, 1912, and 1914, some of their works appeared in Camera Work. There were also several New York City exhibits at Alfred Stiegiltz’s 291 art gallery and at the National arts club.

Calotype or talbotype is an early Photographic process introduced in 1841 by William Henry Fox Talbot using paper
coated with silver iodide. The term calotype comes from the Greek καλός (kalos), "beautiful", and τύπος (tupos), "impression".