Saturday, 28 March 2015

Guest Blog

The Volunteer Experience

This week we have a guest blog from one of our heritage volunteers. Volunteers are often vital to heritage projects. They are a valuable resource and whilst they are not paid, they are part of an exchange which can involve access to otherwise private collections, specialist training, and skill development.

Below Anne Allcock talks about her first 'hands on' experience down in the cellar:

W. W. Winter's hove into sight and I had no idea what to expect apart from the information which we'd had on the training day, two months previously.  Having been made most welcome by Louisa, Angela and Jane, Angela then said "keep your coat on we're in the back room". Curiouser and curiouser...
All became clear when Jane said we'd be working on the large plates. Jane took  Barbara and myself through the warren into the back room and we started work on the plates. Coats were definitely needed but the cataloguing, cleaning and wrapping soon dispelled most of the cold.

Anne working with project archivist, Jane Middleton-Smith in the cellar

There was a lot of laughter and chat about photography (although we did make a detour to Mount Everest) and so much information was gleaned just from inspecting the plates, with Jane adding from her increasing wealth of knowledge.
Hubert joined us for a while to talk about the 'Victorian equivalent of Photoshop' i.e.hand retouching, and also about the solarisation effect on plates; so much learned in such a short time.
What an interesting and enjoyable afternoon it was.This is an amazing project and deserves all the help it can get—I'm greatly looking forward to my next visit.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Support from HLF East Midlands

The Heritage Lottery Funded Volunteer Room

Winter's used to have a suite of darkrooms running across the back of the building. With the advent of digital photography and imaging, these wet processing rooms fell out of use. The colour darkroom was set up in Mr Winter's old private office. Being a dark room we didn't see it much but this is what it ended up looking like:
Over a period of four months the layers have been laboriously peeled back, and restored to a workable office space for our HLF project volunteers. The insulation had to be stripped off the walls which revealed the old fire place, sash windows, and a secret doorway!

Once this was done, we were able to rebuild the room back from the bare-brick. Our builder, Jason Toon, worked hard to create the perfect finish:
All this labour that has been going on in the background means that these specially trained volunteers...
 ...can use this room.... turn these...
...into this!

Follow our blog to keep up-to-date as we scan and publish more images!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Photo Heritage Evidence

FORMAT Festival 2015 is up and running!

There are two ways to access Winter's archive during Derby's international photography festival:

Artist Debbie Cooper has produced a beautiful exhibition using images from large format old glass plate negatives discovered in Winter's cellar.

Inspired by the war time practice of recycling glass from negatives to build green houses, Debbie has re-imagined an architectural space in the form of a hexagonal glass house printed with portaits from Winter's.
The sense of light brings these images to life in a very personal way. Photography allows us to observe the face intensely without fear of social embarrassment, and gives us the space to reflect, 'who is this anonymous person / who am I?', letting our imaginations grow.

Tours* around the Winter's studio allow the public to further investigate the most important part of Derby's heritage; its people.

On display around the studio are many portraits spanning the history of the business over the last 150 years, as well as cameras and lenses. The original daylight retouching studio will be open to view, and take a turn around the large photo studio to see some of the old hand painted backdrops and props.

*Book your tour place via the Quad box office, and browse the FORMAT festival website for all the exiting events and exhibitions over the coming weeks. We look forward to seeing you!