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The buffalow girl Varanasi 2006

Photographic Exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

26 September 2014 – 11 January 2015

A remarkable photographic exhibition, People of India, is set to open at Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in September 2014.

People of India presents a series of extraordinary photographs drawn from three immense collections – two historical, one contemporary – created at key moments in India’s history. Together these official, personal and historic images invite the viewer to compare the ways in which the people of India have been documented over the last 150 years.

At the heart of the exhibition is a series of striking contemporary portraits by Coventry based photographer Jason Tilley. Taken between 1999 and 2009, Tilley’s black and white studies document a personal journey through India made possible by travel grants from Arts Council England. Tilley’s personal and cultural explorations, often re-tracing his grandfather’s footsteps, are presented through a series of portraits of the people he met, befriended and often re-encountered over a decade travelling through the urban and rural landscapes of India.

Tilley began his photographic career in 1987 as a staff photographer at the Coventry Citizen, going on to work for the Coventry Evening Telegraph, Birmingham Post and Mail, and a wide range of national newspapers and magazines, before embarking on this decade-long project.

Tilley’s journey was inspired by an archive of family photographs taken by his Anglo-Indian grandfather, Bert Scott. Scott worked as a press photographer for The Times of India newspaper from 1936 to 1940 and then as head of the Indian Army’s photographic unit in Burma during the Second World War. These roles gave him unique access to record a defining moment in British-Indian history, including the very last days of the Raj. Scott’s press, family, social and army photographs bear witness to everyday and official life in India up to the point when, risking their lives travelling through the violence of Partition, his family left India in 1947 carrying their precious family photographs with them.

Finally the exhibition presents a series of ethnographic images from the seminal 19th century photographic undertaking The People of India on loan from the Library of Birmingham, who have also supported Tilley’s ten year project. The origins of this study, published between 1868 and 1875, lay in the British government’s desire to create a visual record of ‘typical’ physical attributes and characteristics of Indian people: a reference work to assist them in understanding and then controlling the Indian population under British rule. Tilley established a remarkable personal link to this publication when he discovered that a distant relative, the Reverend E Godfrey, was one of the photographers who contributed to The People of India.

Admission to the exhibition is free of charge. Find out more click here.

This exhibition is a partnership between the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Jason Tilley and the Library of Birmingham.

This exhibition – curated by English Heritage – showcases Aerofilms’ unique aerial archive with images dating from 1919 to 1953. Aerofilms Ltd was the world’s first firm of commercial aerial photographers.

Established in 1919, Aerofilms’ founders were pioneers of the air. A collection of adventurers, showmen and aviation enthusiasts, the firm married the fledgling technology of flight to the discipline of photography. From the very start of operations, Aerofilms took photographs of villages, towns, cities and landscapes all over the country. Continuing this far-reaching programme for 80 years, its photographs provide a unique view of the development of Britain’s urban centres and rural landscapes throughout the 20th century.

In addition to the outdoor exhibition, which shows images from across Britain, a special indoor display presented in the Spotlight space which opens in late June at LoB will feature images from Birmingham and the West Midlands. The exhibtions are presented as a partnership between English Heritage and the Library of Birmingham.

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Photographers Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl respond to 19th Century photographer Sir Benjamin Stone’s archive, which is held at The Library of Birmingham

To read Gemma Padley’s article for The British Journal of Photography — 1 May 2014 – click here.

Click here for more information about Album 31 and the current show at Library of Birmingham or for a review of the show by  y Anna Falcini at Photomonitor click here.


13 February – 31 March

Gallery of Photography, Meeting House Square, Dublin 2

Library of Birmingham, in collaboration with the IKON, showed the first major exhibition by Midlands-based artist John Myers in 2012. Comprising black and white photographs made in the 1970s, including portrait of individuals and families living in and around Stourbridge and the Black Country, plus typological studies of TV sets and a series of Boring Landscapes, this exhibition now tours to Dublin.

in other news;

John Myer’s acclaimed portrait of Mr and Mrs Seabourne ( features in the exhibition A Collection, currently on display on The Photographers’ Wall in the Library of Birmingham.

John Myers best shot


The library continues to build up its holdings of British photographs from the 1970s-80s with the purchase of 61 photographs by John Curno. The acquisition includes his ROOFTOPS series (1980) and BRIMHAM ROCKS (1981), a personal study of the unusual sandstone (Millstone Grit) structures of Brimham Rocks in North Yorkshire.

The rooftop series and a series of seascapes and landscapes formed Curno’s first solo exhibition at Impressions Gallery (York) in 1982. The Brimham Rock series was first exhibited at Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool) in 1983.

John Curno, Brimham Rocks,c1982

John Curno, Brimham Rocks,c1982


Internationally acclaimed photographer, Brian Griffin, has added three of his major exhibitions to the substantial existing collection of his work held by the Library of Birmingham.

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The Val Williams Archive goes to the Library of Birmingham

The Val Williams Archive is to become part of the nationally and internationally significant photography collections at the new Library of Birmingham. The archive consists of papers, letters, audiotapes, video, manuscripts, published material, invitations, posters, press cuttings and research materials documenting the work of one of the UK’s most important curators and writers on photography.

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The Library of Birmingham will be a major new cultural destination, rewriting the book for 21st century public libraries. It opens on 3 September 2013 in Centenary Square, Birmingham City Centre.

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The Library of Birmingham holds one of the national collections of photography: the only such collection held outside a national museum, library or archive and the only one of such significance held in a public reference library in the UK.

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