By David Trout LRPS
Life has never been busier or more interesting at Durham Photographic Society. With a membership of around 100 (we ended last year with 113 and 92 have already paid subs so far this year) and an active programme not just on the regular Thursday evenings but on many other dates as well.
And we recently staged two successful print exhibitions – running at the same time in Co. Durham.
The first was an exhibition of 62 A3-size prints at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, celebrating the North East’s unique role in the development of steam power on the railways. It ran for six weeks throughout January until February 14th 2017. During this period more than 9,500 people visited the museum. National Railway Museum events officer Pam Porter told us later the show received many positive comments.
The second was a smaller exhibition documenting the skills of traditional North East craftsmen and women at the delightful Witham Gallery in Barnard Castle. This ran for four weeks during January. This was the third part of a project we named Portraits from the North East which began in 2014
It all began with an idea from the fertile mind of Durham Photographic Society member John Cogan ARPS to photograph 100 of the North East’s influential people. John and fellow DPS members spent around a year photographing and interviewing the chosen selection of people from the worlds of politics, regional administration, arts, sport, business and science to build up the portfolio of prints. The subjects included international athletics star and TV sports presenter Steve Cram, Sunderland born broadcast journalist Kate Adie, local and national political figures, and police and fire chiefs in Co. Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. Multiple gold medal winning paraplegic games super star Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a member of the House of Lords, represented both sport and politics in the exhibition.
The arts scene was richly represented by world-renowned opera singer and chancellor of Durham University Seaham-born, Sir Thomas Allen, Northumberland folk singer and composer Kathryn Tickell and Co Durham based children’s author and former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine who wrote Madame Doubtfire, the book which inspired the hit movie Mrs Doubtfire. John tagged his subjects the region’s ‘movers and shakers’ and the resulting exhibition went on to critical acclaim as it showed first at Alnwick Castle in May 2015 after winning support from one of its subjects, the Duchess of Northumberland. It then toured to Newcastle’s St Nicholas Cathedral, Sunderland’s Art Museum and Winter Gardens, Blyth Arts and Leisure centre and Co. Durham’s Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle.
The team then moved to stage two of PftNE, portraits featuring veterans fromWorld War 11 and then, in 2016 launched a third exhibition project, people involved in traditional North Country crafts. All three enterprises have produced superb sets of prints by a large number of DPS members which have been displayed at a variety of North East venues in the past couple of years.
More venues for further print shows are in the pipeline in the coming months.
Durham Photographic Society was formed just after World War 11 but had its roots in the Durham City Camera Club which was launched in the 1890s The camera club faded during the two world wars until its revival as Durham PhotographicSociety.
Its thriving membership can now enjoy Thursday night meetings throughout during the year, except over Christmas and New Year. Many other camera clubs suspend business during the summer months. In August when formerly DPS didn’t meet there are informal ‘summer schools’ with members leading groups in specialist photo sessions. This was the brainchild of former president Angy Ellis.
There are also monthly Saturday photo assignments to locations throughout the North East followed by a Tuesday night review of the prints.
We have monthly digital tuition groups, a lively website with almost daily updates and a wide range of members’ photo galleries which are now updated annually. David Trout LRPS March 2017
This article first appeared in Northern Focus, the magazine of Northern Counties Photographic Federation edited by John Smith , Spring 2017 edition