Newsletter Archive : Spring 2006
In May, Dr Lindy Grant takes up her appointment as Professor in Medieval History at Reading University. She joined the Conway Library in 1976.
In the Conway Library general office in Portman Square, we had, propped on the mantelpiece, a jigsaw box. The picture was of a team of leggy charm-school girls called “The Conway”, performing a surfboarding act, all smiling at the camera while retaining perfect poise; symbolic, this seemed, of our balancing act, each one of us deftly holding the building blocks of western art in place. Lindy, with her knowledge of buttress, arch and vaulting rib, was the one who sustained the gothic piles, apt to be dismissed by me as so many Olivetti typewriters, though each a wonder to her who knew what made them tick, and more than a little of their makers.
Dr Philip Ward-Jackson
Last summer the red and green boxes moved into their newly equipped chambers against a backdrop of ‘Lindy blue’. This could have been a testing time for us but for me it has proved a rare treat and a privilege. Lindy and I share the conviction that preservation is paramount to the future of the photographic libraries and over the past few weeks Lindy has patiently tutored me in the art of identifying photographic print processes and their photographers, surrounded by a sea of rare and delicate early photographs. Lindy’s passion for these 19th century beauties and her eloquence in promoting them has provoked an interest beyond the Institute’s walls and I hope to play my part to ensure her work continues, not least in the History of Photography seminars she has initiated.
Barbara Thompson – Witt Librarian
Anyone browsing an image from the Conway Library available through our lottery-funded website www.artandarchitecture.org.uk owes Lindy a great debt of thanks; one that, if only they knew it, should be multiplied 35,000 times over, for it was Lindy who, with Philip Ward-Jackson, hand-picked all these images from a collection of nearly one million.
The scale of this task, completed in just over a year, almost defies belief and understanding; each week the fruits of their labours – cases full of photographs – left the Courtauld to be scanned and were returned safely a few days later. From the celebrated to the obscure, from medieval to modern, from historic architecture to historic photographers and photographic techniques, Lindy advised and guided the cataloguing team and helped secure for the Conway a new digital future and global audience – from specialised to popular.
Editor, Art and Architecture Website
This academic year has seen the launch of a new research initiative at the Courtauld Institute – a research seminar in the History of Photography. The history of photography is an expanding field, an area of intense intellectual activity. It is also quintessentially interdisciplinary; photography has, in its 170 or so years of existence, touched many areas of everyday life, and as art or science or both has played an important role in the development of many academic disciplines. But for that very reason, historians of photography are often scattered across university departments or curate significant collections where the primary focus of the collection may have little to do with photography as such. There are now several conferences on aspects of the history of photography, often held within a museum or collection context – indeed, the Courtauld Institute in conjunction with the Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House has just held a highly successful conference on Russian photography. But an on-going research seminar within an academic context is a different matter, and that did not exist – until now.
The History of Photography Seminar takes place once a term under the aegis of, and taking place within, the Research Forum. We were delighted that Professor Mark Haworth-Booth, who has played such a major role in establishing the discipline of History of Photography in Britain, launched the new seminar, in the autumn term, with a paper on new discoveries on Camille Silvy’s River Scene of 1858. In February, Dr Sudeshna Guha gave a rich and thought-provoking paper on photography of archaeological sites in India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the series will finish with a paper by Steve Edwards on 31st May. The programme for the next academic year will include a paper by Pamela Roberts on the emergence of colour photography.
I have enormously enjoyed working with Dr Alexandra Moschovi in establishing this new research seminar. Both Alexandra and I would like to thank Professor Pat Rubin and the Research Forum for their support. After my departure from the Courtauld in May, Barbara Thompson, the Witt Librarian, will take my place as co-convenor along with Alexandra. If you would like to be added to the e-mail circulation list for the seminar please inform either Barbara or Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
Dr Lindy Grant
Acting Conway Librarian