Big Big Camera Portraits

YKSMM: 2018.1.1=8
Ian Beesley

A collection of black and white photographic prints taken by photographer Ian Beesley using the Hunter Penrose camera which is held in the collections of Gallery Oldham. The collection includes portraits featuring seven of the Museum’s Guides as well as a formal group staff photograph. Each print includes both the positive and negative image pictured side by side.

The big big camera was manufactured by the company of Hunter Penrose sometime around the turn of the last century. It has been in the collections of Gallery Oldham since it was retrieved from Rome Mill in Springhead in 1990. The camera had originally been used in the printing of wallpaper. Ian Beesley, artist in residence for Gallery Oldham, spent several months cleaning and restoring the camera. The Hunter Penrose camera was originally designed for huge negatives measuring 24 inches square. Photographic printing paper was loaded into the camera and exposed as if it was film.

Photographic printing paper though available in large sizes is much slower to react to light than film; exposure times of 45 to 90 seconds are not unusual. The images produced do not have the definition or sharpness of film, but possess the appearance of photographs similar to the very earliest photographs produced in the 1830s.

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Image of a Miner looking to the right
Image of a child looking to the left
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