The second in our series of archive visits took us to Birmingham Central Library. The Library has acquired a large part of the archive of photographer John Blakemore to add to its already extensive photographic collection. Conversations with key people involved in creating and developing the archive serve to underline the complexities of preparing such a body of work for inclusion within the life and function of the library.
Blakemore himself recounts his working life as a photographer and talks about the implications of having one's life's work incorporated within an archive. Ela Myszek (Library and Archives Assistant) has been working closely with the artist in cataloguing the archive. Ela illustrates the challenges involved in bringing the sheer detail of information surrounding the genesis of the work into the frame of the catalogue.
Pete James (Head of Photographs) speaks about his ambitions to establish the Library in Birmingham as a major repository of British photography. The Library already holds a number of significant collections including that of noted nineteenth century photographer Sir Benjamin Stone. The role played by Libraries and Museums in mediating and shaping the history of photography is discussed further by Pete in his article Classified Subjects.
The question of what happens to a photographer's work when they are no longer around to look after it, and the often haphazard way that personal collections come to end up within public institutions is examined by Mark Bolland in his article Where Do All The Photographs Go?