Glass Ladies - Trading on British Class 2016 - work in progress

Witt Library special collections archive
The Courtauld Institute of Art /The de Laszlo Gift of Paul Laib Negatives

Image:  Lady Whittle © Veronica Bailey / The Courtauld Insitute of Art /The de Laszlo Gift of Paul Laib Negatives / Sir Gerald Kelly Estate of the Artist 2016

A new work in progress, juxtaposing the private and public - establishing an alternate form of photographic portraiture through the overlay of society portrait painting and printed trade advertisement.

Fine art photographer Veronica Bailey opens her Clerkenwell studio to show ‘work in progress’ from a new series of photographs created from The de Laszlo Gift of Paul Laib Glass Negatives inside the Witt Library at The Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Veronica Bailey is part of Photo London 2016 Satellite Events & Photo London VIP Programme 
+ Craft Central Made in Clerkenwell Spring OpenStudios 2016 + Clerkenwell Design Week Fringe Partner 2016  

OPENING TIMES - Friday 20th-Saturday 21th May 2016
Veronica Bailey  Studio 14 Cornwell House, 21 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R ODX
Studio 14 Special Opening Times Friday 20th May 12-8pm • Saturday 21st May 12-3pm 
£5 door / pre- register for free entry -
Studio 14 Clerkenwell event is part of Photo London  Public Programe / Satellite Events  & Craft Central Made in Clerkenwell Open Studios

Clerkenwell Design Week  Tuesday 24th - Thursday 26th May 4-7pm daily 
Studio 14 Opening Times Tuesday 24th - Thursday 26th May 4-7pm daily 

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Glass Ladies - Trading on British Class 2016

London-based Fine Art Photographer, Veronica Bailey presents a new work in progress - Veronica Bailey ‘Glass Ladies - Trading on British Class’ - from The de Laszlo Gift of Paul Laib Negatives within The Witt Photographic Image Library at The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London.

The de Laszlo Gift of fine art photographer Paul Laib’s (1869-1958) 22,000 glass negatives, made between 1905 and 1960’s from his studio in Kensington, consists of painted works by numerous, largely forgotten, society artists of the period (including Gerald Kelly (1879-1972), Sir James Gunn (1893-1964), and Sir Oswald Birley (1880-1957)) . Saved from destruction by Patrick de Laszlo, son of the portrait painter Philip de Laszlo (1869-1937), these negatives were donated to the Witt Library in 1974.

At the Photo-London 2015 Witt Library VIP tour, Bailey discovered a selection of uncatalogued Laib boxes, where glass negatives were stored between the torn pages of Kelly’s trade phone directories. This new body of photographic work, records a crucial point in the library’s history – where a pragmatic approach to digitalisation is being adopted by The Courtauld. Society ladies catalogued through the photographic process (both analogue and digital) have been unwittingly
re-presented as advertising models for various proletariat trades and professions.

New titles such as ‘Lady Quickset’, ‘Lady Silver’ and ‘Lady Shutter’, reflect an ironic difference within the class structure of the period. The presentation of the images – as near colourless diptychs (both positive and negative) - suggest a push and pull of public and private relationships. Ghosted text reveal an inter and post-war period when a four-digit, London prefix was confirmation of important and professional people, trades and institutions of the time.

Kelly’s Directories were introduced in 1845 by Frederic Festus Kelly. The books were last printed in1956, and now act as invaluable historical data. Both the fragile paper and the vulnerable glass negative sandwiched together within the Witt collection are ‘visual material’ in the study of both art and photographic history. Bailey is continuing to research this private collection within the Courtauld library, working along side Tom Bilson, Head of Digital Media, and plans a public exhibition of the work in The Courtauld Book Library Foyer later in 2016.

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All artwork and images © Veronica Bailey 2024.