Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition Review – Science Museum

The Science Museum for the bi-centuary birthday of Julia Cameron (1815) exhibits some of her work as one of the leaders of art photography. “Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 79) was one of the most important and innovative photographers of the 19th century Best known for her powerful portraits.” (Weiss, 2002).

The blurry images show the portraits of the people or models. The portraits are soft and at some stage not entirely clear to the eyes. The technique has been used for the photography reduced the visibility of the images. Hence it gives a more artistic look to the image rather than documentation of the models. There are similarities between the images such as, lighting, blur technique, face expressions and emotions of the subjects. Even though some of the images are faded because of the age, but clearly Julia Margaret Cameron tires to create a depth of field in her images to emphasis on the emotions of the subjects.

Fig 01. Angel of the Nativity. Julia Margaret Cameron. 1872.

Apart from her staged portrait photography, there is also a small collection of the documentary photography called ‘Ceylon: Coffee Plantation’. These documentary photographs show the workers in the Ceylon. These images are not exactly like the images she has shot in her studio. These images are due to the exposure to the brightness of the sunlight. (Warnapala, 2003)

Some photos are images from relatives or people who Julia knew in her life but on the other hand, some of the staged photographs were based on Greek sculptures. Greek Sculptures impressed her and due to her interest, she decided to use “living models instead of marble figures” (Prettejohn, 2012, p. 66).

Fig 02. Love. Juliet Margaret Cameron. 1864

Apart from the Julia Margaret images, the Science Museum designed the Media Studio in a manner to represent the images in the best possible way. First of all, it was easy to follow the images, and it has been categorised in a way that we could see the separation between different forms of her photography. The staged portraits come first, then more sculptured design images and the documentary-style photos are separate from the central core of the exhibition. In between there are some letters, writing and one of her lenses, are kept separately in glass shelves. In general, I found it easy to explore between the images and become more familiar with Julia Margaret Photography.

Visiting the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition at Science Museum was a pleasant experience for me to realize how she creatively developed her photographs to create another dimension of photography in a more artistic way. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about works and the life of the pioneer artist. I strongly recommend the exhibition to those with passion for photography as an art medium.

Fig 03. Love. Francis Osele. 2015


Prettejohn, E. (2012). The Modernity of Ancient Sculpture: Greek Sculpture and Modern Art from Winckelmann to Picasso. USA: I.B.Tauris.

Warnapala, K. C. (2003). Dismantling the Gaze: Julia Margaret Cameron’s Sri Lankan Photographs. Michigan State University.

Weiss, M. (2002). Julia Margaret Cameron: Biography. Retrieved 11 13, 2015, from http://www.vam.ac.uk/: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/julia-margaret-cameron/julia-margaret-cameron-biography/

Julia Margaret Cameron Exhibition Review – Science Museum

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