A White House on Paradise Street

A White House on Paradise Street

A collaborative exhibition by Jo Gane, Pete James and Leon Trimble to launch in May 2017

This exhibition is inspired by the absence of what has been claimed by some writers to be the first photographic image made in Birmingham. Some of these same authors have also suggested that this was potentially the first daguerreotype made in England.

Using apparatus imported from France, the image - said to depict a White House on Paradise Street - is thought to have been made by George Shaw in late August or early September 1839. Shaw’s role as a patent agent, professor of chemistry and his position within scientific and commercial circles in and beyond Birmingham have led some to speculate that he was able to access privileged early information about Daguerre’s invention and to use this to make this important yet enigmatic image.

In response to research by Pete James and working in collaboration with BOM Fellow, Leon Trimble, Jo Gane is making new work that combines historic and contemporary techniques and extends the latent possibilities of this missing image.

The exhibition places small Time Machines around the city in locations relevant to key moments and events in the early history of photography in Birmingham. These Time Machine devices resemble the historic Wolcott daguerreotype camera yet are powered by Raspberry Pi’s and have the capability to live stream images that are not fixed photographically from within the camera. They mine the contemporary landscape to make visible the history of the city’s role as the midwife to the birth of photography in the early 19th Century.

Alongside the live stream of indistinct, soft images from within the camera devices, which are reminiscent of even earlier attempts to produce photographic images a series of sharp, detailed new Daguerreotypes on show in the gallery render fragments of what may have been visible on Shaw’s original Daguerreotype plate into focus within this new digital landscape inspired by fragments of the past.

This project will be presented as part of a series of collaborative and companion exhibitions and projects brought together by BOM that explores the early history of photography, including ‘Thresholds’ by Mat Collishaw which will be shown simultaneously at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

This exhibition has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts