Portrait of a Living Archive



CHICC photographers Jamie and Gwen have an exhibition of portrait photography opening in the John Rylands Library this month.

“When people think about libraries they tend to think of them as the ancestral home of written rather than visual culture. The John Rylands Library houses a significant collection of art, from various cultures and a range of historical periods.

Similarly, when people think of a specialist library like the Rylands they are often unaware that our collections are constantly growing with new acquisitions and that these teem with the life of the living alongside the venerable dead. Contemporary poets, novelists, artists, translators, book-binders and printers appear in our collections and one way to connect with them is through the medium of photographic portraiture.

Over the past year, the library’s photographers, Jamie Robinson and Gwen Jones, have made a series of portraits that bring us face to face with some of the people who appear in our collections. In turn, these photographs will become part of the Library’s collection of images, adding depth to our knowledge of the people represented in the archive whilst enriching our collection of photography.” – Stella Halkyard, visual collections and academic engagement manager

The project has provided a range of engagement activities for the public, an entire archive which will be deposited in the Library – all of the film, contact sheets, correspondence associated with the project, both analogue and digital we will deposited her in the Library archives for posterity; and finally this project also offers potential as a research project for the newly established John Rylands Research Institute.


The exhibition opens tonight, 3rd of October from 6pm and runs until the 13th January.



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