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Selected research

We facilitate scholarly and practice-based research, and the work produced by our members spans the history and culture of photography.

PARC has a special interest in archival collections, notably the documentation of war and conflict and the transfer of analogue archives to digital forms.

Seaside, Photographed

Curated by Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson, 'Seaside: Photographed' was Turner Contemporary’s first photographic exhibition. Personal and social histories are captured by camera by the sea. The exhibits included Raymond Lawson’s remarkable chronicles of family life in Whitstable (1959), Enzo Ragazzini’s images of the anarchy of the 1970 Isle of Wight festival and Stuart Griffiths’ bleak documentation of the 1990 rave scene in Brighton. Grace Robertson records the raucous goings-on of a woman’s day out to the coast in the 1950s, while Daniel Meadows, Barry Lewis and Dafydd Jones all photographed at Butlins in the 1970s. A more intimate narrative is revealed in the photographs that preserve the seaside haven created by composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears, partners in music and in life.

Edward Reeves Studio

Edward Reeves Photography started in Lewes High Street in Lewes in 1855 and has been in business on the same premises since 1858. It is now run by great-grandson Tom Reeves - making this the oldest still working photographic studio in the world.

This research project concentrates on the glass plate collection, the work of the first three incumbents, which date from 1855-1973. In 2013 Brigitte Lardinois was the first researcher ever to be given access by the owners.

Ken. To be destroyed.

By Sara Davidmann. "In 2011, my brother, sister and I inherited letters and photographs belonging to our uncle and aunt, Ken and Hazel Houston, from our mother Audrey Davidmann. It emerged soon after they were married that Ken was transgender. In the context of a British marriage in the 1950s, this inevitably profoundly affected both their own relationship and their relationships with others. The title for the project was taken from my mother’s writing on one of the envelopes. I began by photographing the family pictures and papers, and worked digitally to create fictional photographs of K - a name I gave to Ken’s female identity - trying to imagine how K might have looked. In 2016, the Ken. To be destroyed book, edited by Val Williams, was published by Schilt and Ken. To be destroyed was shown at Schwules Museum in Berlin, curated by Williams and Robin Christian."

Ožiljak (Scar)

By Paul Lowe. The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. after being initially attacked by the forces of the Yugoslav People’s army, Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was besieged by the army of Republika Srpska from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996. Under siege, Sarajevo changed from a vibrant, modern metropolis into something resembling a medieval stronghold. However, despite all the privations and dangers, its citizens continued to make art, music, theatre and dance, and would sometimes make the long and dangerous journey to the centre of the city, on foot or bicycle, just to maintain a sense that they were still part of the human race.

A Sideshow of a Sideshow

By Tom Hunter. "The year 2019 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War and the defeat of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire and its surrender of the Arabian Peninsula. This sparked the dramatic geo-political events and the carving up of a once united area into the modern day Middle Eastern countries that we still recognise on the map today. In A Sideshow of a Sideshow I have investigated the myth and legacy of the late T E Lawrence (1888-1935).The idea behind the project is to deconstruct this myth and take the viewer on a journey that both illuminates the past life of Lawrence and investigates the British relationship with the Middle East in terms of military occupation, cultural identity, historical relationships and the consequences of imperialism."

The Camerawork Collection

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In 2005, Shirley Read, a former member of the Half Moon Photography Workshop and the Camerawork Cooperative, donated a large part of the Camerawork collection to the Photography and the Archive Research Centre. PARC recognised the material as a valuable study resource, housed the collection and made its content accessible to researchers, staff and the public – including PhD students. In 2019, PARC moved its archive collections to UAL Archives and Special Collections Centre where it is currently being repackaged and safeguarded.

Garden State

Gardens are micro-landscapes and gardening, like mapping, is a way of allocating territory. Over two years, Corinne Silva travelled across 22 Israeli settlements making photographs of public and private gardens, in order to explore the ways in which gardens and gardening may represent the Israeli State’s ongoing expansionist ambitions. In 2014 Garden State (first shown as Gardening the Suburbs) took the form of a large-scale installation made up of clusters of photographs of these Israeli gardens.

Portraits from the Elephant

In May 2017, Almudena Romero was commissioned by PARC to open a free studio in the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, to make a series of portraits of residents, shoppers and visitors, using the wet collodion process. Almudena was assisted by Hannah Fletcher and Naroa Perez. Open for four days, the studio photographed over 100 women, men and children, making a remarkable portrait of the people who passed through this building, which stands at the centre of change in this iconic London neighbourhood.

Facing Change

In 1975 the International Arts Centre in Southwark staged 'Death of a Road? Photographs of London Road SE1 from 1904 to 1975'. The exhibition brought together recent photos, notably work by Mick Hales and Bruce Rae’s impressive study of a South London community on the verge of redevelopment, with an untitled, earlier series made by Ernest Miller in 1904. Robin Christian ‘discovered’ this series in a yellow Kodak photographic box, among the many papers that make up the London College of Communication collection in the UAL Archives and Special Collections Centre. While the landscape around the ‘Castle roundabout’ continues to change, these photographs continue to have a life of their own. This exhibition is part of a research project led by Brigitte Lardinois examining the history of the London College of Communication.