Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Inspired: Julia Margaret Cameron - The Isle of Wight

It has been on my mind for many years to travel to The isle of Wight and visit Dimbola Lodge.
I finally got to do this over the summer holidays.
Dimbola Lodge was home to the pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. She was born in India in 1815. From 1860 to 1875 she made Dimbola her workplace and turned her chicken hut into a darkroom and studio. Julia established the photographic portrait as an art form in its own right. She photographed everyone from the famous,local children to her own maids.
The photographic album was a Victorian household article - similar to the use of camcorders and  dvds of today.

The process for Julia was laborious and she worked with three maids (assistants) to help her prepare plates and process the images. She often worked in freezing conditions and once wrote to her old friend Edward Ryan, " It has been a real labour for in all the freezing weather I have poured nine cans of water fresh from the well over each photograph"

When in London Julia would work on her images in the South Kensington Museum ( now the V&A) which had the advantage of continous running water !
I have always admired her theatrically soft,romantic imagery  -  I like the contrast of the work ethic behind it all - she worked with tenacity even under  very trying and uncomfortable circumstances.

For me Julia Margaret Cameron and her work ethic is someone to aspire to no matter how long has passed since she was in her chicken hut and coal shed.

Julia Passed away in India. Apparently, as she lay outside in her bed at night she looked up at the stars she uttered her last word, 'Beautiful'.

I left feeling very moved and emotional, maybe I had been wanting to come here for so long, I don't know. I felt like I now know what it must be like to be religious and go to church !

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