Friday 24 January 2020

Power of humble spud in rare focus

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

MODERN colour photography could never have happened without the humble spud.

A collection of rare and beautiful images taken in 1907 -- which for the first time ever captured the world around us in colour -- bears testimony to the power of a little potato starch and some natural dyes.

The mystical spires of Lyon at twilight; a gathering of family members having a "little rest" on a bench; and a sulking toddler with her dolly, the pictures are a skillful blend of crisp, contemporary photography and artistic composition, capturing life at the time in a unique and compelling way.

The pictures, which have gone in display in Dublin, were personally taken by Auguste and Louis Lumiere -- the French brothers credited with inventing colour photography and cinema.

The new exhibition shows once-off prints carefully taken from the original glass plates (autochromes) by the brothers between 1907 and 1911 in areas around their home in Lyon and along the southern coast of France.

Other rare and original photographs by Eadweard Muybridge -- the father of motion pictures -- have also gone on display as part of the same exhibition at Mondrian's Room on St Stephen's Green, Dublin, to coincide with the ongoing Photo Ireland Festival.

Muybridge's works are said to have inspired photographers and cinematographers right up to the present day -- with his influence felt on the movement sequences in 'The Matrix' movie and in U2's 'Lemon' video.

"Muybridge's prints are extremely beautiful in the flesh so to speak," said Aebhric Coleman, owner of the Mondrian's Room gallery. "He was, of course, famously the first person to photograph a running horse which was a huge discovery at the time in 1872 and an enormous achievement technically."

Mr Coleman said he and his wife Fiona Bailey, who runs the gallery with him, were extremely lucky to come by the plates.

Of the Lumiere collection, he said it comprised 13 images which they purchased recently from a descendent of the Lumiere family. The photographs are rare and have never been shown publicly until now.

The rare photographs will be for sale and on display at the 'Birth of Colour and Motion Photography' exhibition, which takes place at Mondrian's Room until July 11 from 10am-6pm.

Irish Independent

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