Somerset House Steps Back in Time

The world’s first major photography exhibition is restaged at this prestigious London venue…


"Thresholds" a new photographic exhibition at Somerset House this Spring.

“Thresholds” a new photographic exhibition coming to Somerset House, London, this Spring.

This Spring Somerset House will curate the first ever major photographic exhibition in concert with acclaimed artist Mat Collinshaw.

But how can this be??  I hear you cry!  There have been many a photographic exhibition before!

Here, Collinshaw brings us this first ever exhibition from 1839 via a totally immersive VR experience.  The artist said:-

“I have been looking to work with virtual reality for a number of years and I am delighted that it has now become a feasible medium for me to use in an artwork.”.

The original 19th Century exhibition celebrated cutting-edge technological innovation.  A number of new inventions were premiered there, which have been faithfully reconstructed and digitally recreated for today’s audiences by Collinshaw.  “Thresholds” not only restages an important historical exhibition, but also provides access to works previously lost to the public.  Fox Talbot’s original photographs have unfortunately faded beyond recognition, for example.  Collinshaw commented on VR’s ability to access these previously lost gems:-

“VR’s ability to enable visitors to revisit the birth of photography – a medium that has come to saturate our lives – is uncanny and compelling.  It’s also quite appropriate as VR is the total 360 degree immersion of the viewer within an image, and is itself one of the many innovations spawned by the invention of photography”.

“Thresholds” will launch as part of Photo London, the annual photography fair at Somerset House, but will continue as a standalone exhibition there until 11 June.  It will then travel to Birmingham (original setting for the 1839 exhibition), as well as Lacock Abbey, Wilts (Fox Talbot’s former home) and also Bradford.

Exciting features of the exhibition include: visitors walking freely through a digitally-reconstructed room; they will be able to touch architectural features of that room; feel the heat from a log fire; and experience ghostly avatars as they progress.  Indeed the soundtrack for the exhibition – conceived by Collinshaw – features the Chartist protesters from Birmingham’s 1839 riots.

For further details, see Somerset House’s website  Tickets will go on sale thereon from 20th February.

Mat Collinshaw, “Thresholds”, Somerset House (River Rooms), £3.50 ea, 18/5 – 11/6/17.


[Credits:  Mat Collinshaw & his crew – Photographic Historian Pete James; Mixed Reality Laboratory, Nottingham University’s Paul Tennant; Respected Authority on Fox Talbot Larry Schaaf; Architectural Historian David Blisset; VMI Studios and The Whitewall Company, London.  Somerset House Press Office].







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