New Haven, CT
This exhibition offers a glimpse of the lost architecture of preindustrial London, as captured in a series of carbon photoprints commissioned between 1875 and 1886 by the short-lived Society for Photographing the Relics of Old London. Intended as a permanent pictorial archive of buildings under threat of demolition, the photographs document ramshackle coaching inns, disintegrating as the growing railway system eclipsed their vital role in Britain’s transportation networks; the Inns of Court, imposing Gothic sites of legal tradition; abandoned sites for early modern leisure and entertainment; gloomy medieval lanes, churches and shop fronts frequented by anonymous Londoners; soot-covered monuments and gateways; and the city’s last remaining wooden buildings, survivors of the Great Fire of 1666.
Relics of Old London explores both this antiquarian impulse to preserve remnants of the past in the face of rapid urban transformation and the role of photography in realizing new forms of public history and visual record. Focusing on the city’s built heritage rather than its shifting social fabric, the exhibition presents an idiosyncratic view of London’s history through its endangered architectural past.
Art in Focus is an annual initiative for members of the Center’s Student Guide Program, providing curatorial experience and an introduction to all aspects of exhibition practice.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website