Take a look into the historic British portrait photographer's world as her former home is opened to the public as the Dimbola Museum & Gallery. The Julia Margaret Cameron Trust acquired the English property on the Isle of Wight in 1993 and have been amassing Cameron's prized photographs as part of their Permanent Collection. See schedules of their changing exhibitions, photography workshops, talks and tours.
Cameron was a late-bloomer, starting her photography career at 48 when she received a camera as a gift, but the importance of her contribution to Artuhrian and Victorian art resonate to this day.
She took on the challenge of a then masculine job, handling large cameras and dangerous chemicals at a time when photography was known as ‘The Black Art’.
Most of her revered photography work was done at this private estate called Dimbola Lodge, named after their family’s tea and coffee plantations in Dimbula, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). From 1860 to 1875, Cameron lived and worked here.
Dimbola was her home as well as studio and the vicinity became a “focal point for a crowd of bohemian artists, writers and poets.” Neighbours included Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson and Cameron’s artistic mentor, sculptor and painter G.F. Watts.
Everyone in the household, from relatives to residents to servants, served as subjects in her photographs.
(See more photos in Best of the Best: Julia Margaret Cameron)
This is Dimbola today, as preserved by the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust. It is open to the public for visits and events. See their 2012 schedule below:
Show Case – Cameron Originals: 13 Jan – 30th June
Each month, in our conservation display case, we will be showing a different Julia Margaret Cameron Albumen print from the Trust’s permanent collection of originals.
West Wight – Past & Present: 26 Jan – 1 Apr 2012
This fascinating exhibition features images from 19th and early 20th century postcards alongside photographs of the same locations taken in 2000.
A History of Portrait Photography: 25 Jan – 8 Apr 2012
An exhibition featuring portraits of sitters such as Aubrey Beardsley, Virginia Woolf, A. A. Milne, Audrey Hepburn, Mick Jagger and Twiggy. Photographers include Lady Clementine Hawarden, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Edward Steichen, Jane Bown and Lord Snowdon.
Isle of Wight Festival Exhibition: Jan – June 2012
A collection of rare posters, programmes, press cuttings, tickets and other memorabilia including photographs from these legendary festivals. One photograph in particular is a panorama from Afton Down which gives an idea of the audience of 600,000 who gathered to watch Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Taste, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell to name a few.
Essential starter camera and darkroom workshops for all aspiring photographers, and those interested in working towards the use of early or alternative processes. Led by John Walker, experienced photographer and darkroom printer in many film and camera formats and alternative processes.
BLACK & WHITE FILM CAMERA AND DARKROOM FOR BEGINNERS
Sat 7th & Sun 8th April 2012, 10am – 4pm (only 6 places)
Learn basic camera craft (aperture, shutter, film speed, loading etc) in the morning of Day 1. Followed in the afternoon shooting your roll of film with a 35mm SLR film camera (your own camera or one on loan from the museum), on a route around the Downs, Freshwater Bay and the Thatched Church. On Day 2, with your film, in Dimbola’s darkroom, you will learn how to develop your film roll, use an enlarger to make a contact sheet of all your shots followed by an enlarged 10 × 8” print from your favourite negative.
Cost including camera, film, chemistry and printing materials, £130
BLACK & WHITE FILM DARKROOM INTERMEDIATE
Sat 21st & Sun 22nd April 2012, 10am – 4pm (only 6 places)
Ideal if you’ve not used a darkroom for a while or want to step up from beginner. With this workshop you can learn how to improve the quality of your darkroom printing techniques. From negative assessment, contrast control, cropping for composition, to dodging and burning. Bring your own 35mm or medium format negatives for use (or others can be loaned) and come away with high quality 10 × 8’ prints to be proud of.
Deadly Magic: Julia Margaret Cameron and The Black Art
Dates through February – May 2012
Find out about the island’s most remarkable Victorian woman who braved the lethal chemistry of the period to create her mesmerising photographs of the ‘Famous and Fair’.
The talk is given by Karen Grainger and will consist of an illustrated slide show followed by a tour and explore of the museum.
Lasts approx. 1 ½ hrs. Free Illustrated talk and tour with free museum and exhibitions entry.
The revival of Cameron’s county home and its maintenance as a museum and gallery keeps the passion for old-fashioned photography alive. This is a sight you must not miss if you ever end up on this side of town.