Hampstead Photographic Society celebrates its 75th anniversary with a special exhibition (From Watford Observer)
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Hampstead Photographic Society celebrates its 75th anniversary with a special exhibition and a few stories at Burgh House, writes Rosy Moorhead
When it came to marking Hampstead Photographic Society ’s 75th anniversary, members had the idea of putting together a book on the group’s history. There were plenty of records to include, they thought, and so there were. There was just one problem – someone had thrown most of it away.
“There was a secretary back in the '60s or '70s who cleared out all our records,” laughs chairman and current secretary David Reed, “so we had very little of our history left.”
The task of researching the club’s earlier years fell to member and external competition organiser Mike Howell, and his research has resulted in a 70-page history book, also available as a pdf, which will sit alongside an exhibition of members’ current work at Burgh House & Hampstead Museum throughout August.
“I’ve been working on the history on and off since our 70th anniversary,” Mike says, “mostly down at the Colindale newspaper archive. We’ve got some club archives dating from the 1980s but I’ve had to look up everything before that.”
The society was founded in 1937 – “not a terribly good time to begin a club, just before World War Two,” as Mike says – and kept going during the war years, which many clubs weren’t able to do, and they have been going ever since.
Mike recalls one of the most interesting things he learned during the course of his research, about the club’s competition trophy.
“It’s carved out of a piece of wood and there’s a club legend that it was wood from one of the seats from the House of Commons, taken when it was bombed. But it’s actually from a bombed out house in central London.
“It is dedicated to the only club member known to have been killed in action in the war, Ronald Weston who was in the RAF. But the plaque on the trophy, put on in the 1950s, says he was killed in the Battle of Britain in 1941. The Battle of Britain was in 1940 of course and Weston was killed in 1943! Club members have competed for that trophy over the years, and they do to this day.”
A number of refugees from Europe joined the society after arriving in London in both the pre- and post-war years, and this multiculturalism influenced the club significantly. Edith Kaufmann, now 107, was a member from 1948, after she and her husband had arrived in England from Nazi Germany, until 1980, and she still takes an interest in the club’s activities.
On display at the anniversary exhibition will be 93 pictures with subjects ranging from edgy street photography to still-life images, landscapes, abstracts and portraits, many of which are for sale. “We’ve got a range of works up,” says David Reed, “from a broad range of members, some of whom have only just started out in photography right through to very experienced digital experts. And the work is a good cross-section of what’s happening in amateur photography around the world.”
- Hampstead Photographic Society’s 75th Anniversary Exhibition is at Burgh House & Hampstead Museum, New End Square, Hampstead until August 27. Details: 020 7431 0144, www.burghhouse.org.uk, www.hampsteadphotosoc.org.uk