Some treasures from the Bernard Shaw photography archive.
In the LSE archive, occupying dozens of boxes, there are approximately 10,000 photographs taken by, and of, Bernard Shaw during his lifetime. They provide an extensive document of a long and prolific life, providing insight into his literary and theatrical work, his political and cultural contemporaries, personal relationships, travels and his celebrity. They are eclectic in their subject and approach, the backs of the photographs covered with various markings: from the hand written words of Shaw, often personal and sometimes polemic; to press stamps as the images become of publishable value; to the annotations of the archivist as they take on the worth of an historic collection after his death.
In addition to writing 50 plays, 5 novels, political pamphlets and volumes of art, theatre and music criticism he was a very keen photographer and a critic of photographic practice, writing vociferously about the battle of photographic realism .vs. pictorialism. His views can be read here in the two selected texts criticising key photographic exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century (particular phrases and witty criticisms annotated by the curator).
What is presented is a mere taste of what the archive contains, a small offering of images which aim to provide a snapshot of Shaw's life and photography: including his links with co-founders of LSE, his personal relationships, his liking for photographic experiments particularly in self portraiture (with a seeming dislike for clothes), and his celebrity status as seen through the numerous artistic representations of GBS in a variety of media. He was painted and sculpted by notable artists as Augustus John, and represented in silver print by notable photographers of the day such as Eisenstadt, Karsh & Madame Yevonde.
In keeping with the spirit of Shaw's acerbic tongue, visitors to this exhibition are invited to contribute their own criticisms on Shaw's photography, and the exhibition as a whole, to the box at the end of the shelf. Go on, do your worst.
A book is planned to follow this exhibition, containing Shaw's photographs, his writings on photography and others writings on his images. The best criticisms left here may be included.
This exhibition was accompanied with the "What's What?" An Evening with Bernard Shaw performance that took place in April 2007 at LSE.
See http://www.psych.lse.ac.uk/recollect/pages/gallery_What'sWhat/index.html to see photographs of the performance.
Into the Light was produced and curated by artist Heather Barnett, assisted by Lucy Moore and Francesca Martinez. Many thanks to the LSE Archive team, in particular Sue Donnelly; Rothna Begum and Judith Higgin; The Society of Authors and The National Trust; the LSE Arts Advisory Group and the University of Westminster.
ReCollect is an integrated arts programme creatively exploring the history of LSE, working in collaboration with staff, students and alumni. Visit www.recollect-lse.info for more information.
The exhibition runs from 17 April - 8 May. Free admission. Open Monday to Friday, 10am - 6pm, The Atrium Gallery, Student Service Centre, Old Building.