Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, Call I Follow, I Follow, Let Me Die' (sitter Mary Hillier), carbon print, 1867, printed later. Museum no. 15-1939. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Revisions, promoting equality and diversity in the V&A photography collection

Revisions is a collaborative research project which aims to identify women photographers within the V&A’s Photography Collection.  It will employ a researcher to work with Fiona Rogers, V&A Parasol Foundation Curator of Women in Photography  to research and analyse the historic Photography collection and how it relates to the representation of gender. 

The V&A began acquiring photographs in 1852, and its collection is now one of the largest and most important in the world. The history of the photography collection in the V&A is closely connected with the development of the Museum as a whole. Its first director, Henry Cole, began a photography collection in 1856. Since then, the collection has grown to be international in scope and comprising over 800,000 photographs, dating from 1839 to the present. In 2017, the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collection was transferred to the V&A, expanding the Collection by 270,000 photographs, as well as over a million objects including photographs, negatives, cameras, technical equipment, books, periodicals, and archival material.

The researcher Elizabeth Ransom will investigate works within the V&A collection made by women photographers, and identify other key information where available. This may include valuable data such as the artist’s ethnic identity, geographical location and the genre or subject of the work. The resulting report aims to reveal the representation of women within the Collection, and underlying or hidden narratives which may connect these artists.

The report is for in house use and will be shared with the V&A, Fast Forward and the University for the Creative Arts Research Office. At a later date it may be used to inform an article that will become public. The report will be used to inform future articles, research projects and collecting strategies at the V&A.

This project builds on the development activity of the Fast Forward group over the last year including Enter the Archive with the National Galleries of Scotland where we commissioned a researcher to investigate the photography collection to discover the stories of womxn and migrants represented there (both as subjects and as photographers). As well the project Using History with The Photographers Gallery in London where a researcher is currently investigating the last 50 yrs of exhibitions, publications and commissions at the gallery to discover the balance of men and womxn exposed there.