Exhibition celebrates photography studio’s work

Edwardian studio portrait of a young girl surrounded by foliage and garlands of apples, possibly a competition entry. © W.W. Winter Ltd

A special exhibition celebrating the work of Derby photographic studio W. W. Winter Ltd is being staged in the city to mark the company’s 150th anniversary.

The project will be part of FORMAT International Photography Festival, the UK’s largest biennial photography festival, which is run and hosted by QUAD in Derby.

The exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, called People, Places and Things, is being curated by Greg Hobson, previously Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum in Bradford, and will run until May 23.

It will include a selection of the earliest surviving photographs; a series of early ‘glass plate’ studio portraits of local Derby people made in the 1850s and 1860s.

Included will be a display of vital, yet often overlooked objects, such as backdrops, studio furniture and props, alongside documents and items which tell the story of the studio and the wider history of photography.

You will also be able to look at previously unseen items including business records, plans and layouts of the studio, as well as revealing the process of making a 19th century photographic portrait.

Alongside the main exhibition, a second space will be used to create a Victorian Portrait Studio in the museum gallery.

There will also be a participatory exhibition about the photographic heritage of Derby, called Your Archive showing images from W. W. Winter Ltd, Derby Stereoscopic Company, Richard Keene and others.

The project will be asking the public of Derby for copies of their old studio photographs to supplement to this exhibition.

W. W. Winter Photography Ltd was established in its present studio in Midland Road in 1867 and 2017 marks its 150th anniversary. The firm can further trace its origins back to 1852 when a photography studio was set up by Emmanuel Nicolas Charles.

His assistant Walter William Winter took over the business on Charles’ death in 1863 and moved into new, purpose built premises, designed by Derby architect Henry Isaac Stevens, in 1867. It is believed that this date makes Winters the oldest surviving photographic studio in the world.

A series of workshops and talks about photographic heritage will also take place during the exhibition at various venue.

W. W. Winters will open its premises on several dates throughout the festival, allowing the public to step back in time and experience their hidden treasures.

Debbie Cooper, the exhibition producer said: “W. W. Winter not only preserved the visual history of the city and its people, but was also a central part of its social and economic fabric.

“The exhibition will include photographs revealing their connections to other local businesses of the time; shining a light on the photographic manufacturing industry which developed in the Midlands in the 19th century.”

FORMAT International Photography Festival, which has been aided by a grant of £45,800 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is currently taking place in QUAD and other Derby venues and will continue until April 23. Go to http://www.formatfestival.com for more details.