Entrance through the gift shop?

Writer and photography / Nancy Breslin

Nancy Breslin goes to Ireland and London and finds pinholes in the gallery shop rather than on the exhibition wall.

Nancy's husband, Peter Caws, photographed her during a pinhole exposure at the cafe of the National Museum of Ireland.
My husband and I just got back from a month away, mostly in Dublin and London. While some of the time was spent visiting family, we tried to squeeze in museums and galleries, particularly keeping our eyes out for interesting photography. We did see some memorable work. At a show of photo graduates from the Dublin Institute of Technology at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin, I was particularly taken with images by Ciuin Tracey and Clive O’Donohoe. At the Tate Modern in London I was introduced to Taryn Simon’s “A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters” (through Nov. 6) and the Victoria & Albert Museum currently has a survey of contemporary South African photographers (through July 17). These were just a few of the shows we visited but, sad to say, the closest I came to finding any trace of pinhole or alternative process (aside from some 19th century work, such as at the “London Street Photography” show at the Museum of London, through September 4) was in museum gift shops. Buy a Holga! Or sun-print paper! One of the most entertaining shows we saw was “Watch Me Move” – an extensive (but oddly uninformative) display of animation at the Barbican in London. The shop was full of books and knick knacks related to animation. And for some reason they were selling pinhole camera kits.

I’d rather see pinhole and other alternative photography on gallery walls. We know there is lots of great work out there. But I suppose a presence in the gift shop is better than nothing.

3 thoughts on “Entrance through the gift shop?”

  1. Thanks, Ky, for the comment. Too bad that the Camera-less show at the V&A closed 4 months ago. As an out-of-towner, we relied on Time Out to point us to interesting shows (and we did see some compelling work, just not of the pinhole/alt ilk). I was sorry when Gregg Kemp’s pinhole.com disappeared, as that was a good resource for exhibitions. I’m sorry I won’t be able to see your show!

  2. Nancy, it seems a shame that you had such an uninspiring visit in London, I think this may have been down to timing as there have been a number of exhibitions related to pinhole and alternative methods and you have probably just missed them. The most notable was the Camera less photography show at the V&A but a number of smaller works in more independent galleries have had pinhole work up. I agree with you that seeing more would be fantastic but at least the presence of the cameras makes for an awareness and hopefully a greater use.
    I am just about to show my work which is a mix of Toy, pinhole and Lumen prints at the Sydenham Arts Festival and I’m doing demo’s/workshop in the hope of expanding awareness. It would have been great to have had your opinion on them! All the best

Leave a Comment