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Edwin Smith – The Last Exposures

These photographs were on the roll of film that still lay, undeveloped, in Edwin’s Ensign Autorange camera when Olive let me have it in 1993. It had been in the camera since 1971 when Edwin died, unbeknownst to Olive.
I processed the 22 year-old roll with great care and was astonished to find it contained usable images. Continue reading “Edwin Smith – The Last Exposures”

Edwin Smith Revisited

Powerscourt photographed by Edwin Smith in 1965

In 1965, whilst photographing in Ireland for the book of the same name published in 1966, Edwin Smith visited the formal gardens at Powerscourt in County Wicklow.

One of the photographs he took there has always held a certain fascination for me and a trip to Ireland gave me the opportunity to visit the gardens and see this impressive place myself. Armed with a copy of this published version of his image on my iPad as a guide, I set out to try and photograph the view as it is today.

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Exhibitions Chronology

This list of exhibitions at which work by Edwin Smith was shown is by no means complete, and doubtless contains some inaccuracies. Even Olive Cook, with her remarkable memory, was not able to provide a complete list.

The compilation has been drawn from many sources; much is from my own collection of catalogues, press releases, private view cards, notes, etc. The dates in bold represent solo exhibitions; the others were group shows that included Edwin’s work. Recent research carried out by myself and Brian Human of the Olive Cook papers held at Newnham College library, Cambridge, has shed some new light on dates and locations of exhibitions.

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Exhibitions of Paintings & Drawings

In 1992, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Edwin Smith was held at the Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden. Ever since his death, Olive Cook had tried to promote more interest in Edwin’s non-photographic output – which was prolific but largely unrecognised during his lifetime.

The cover of the handout for the Sally Hunter show.

In 1997, Olive exhibited his non-photographic work at the Sally Hunter Fine Art gallery in London, now closed. There have been no other major exhibitions of his work that we know of, but The Fry Art Gallery has an extensive collection of work by both Edwin Smith and Olive Cook, as does The Chelmsford Museum.

Edwin Smith used to say that he was “the only artist with a complete collection of his own work”.

Most recently, The Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden, Essex, hosted a major exhibition of Edwin Smith’s paintings, drawings, cuts and photographs from July 7 until September 1, 2013. Continue reading “Exhibitions of Paintings & Drawings”

On photographing cathedrals and parish churches

The cover of ‘English Cathedrals’.
Olive’s dedication to me on the inside cover.

In 1990, Olive Cook gave me a signed and dedicated copy of ‘English Cathedrals‘, which had just been published. In the Foreword she says that the book was needed because relatively few of Edwin’s photographs of cathedrals had ever been published, yet it was a subject to which he was considerably drawn.

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Record and Revelation

This descriptive text was written by Olive Cook after Edwin’s death, to accompany a major exhibition of his photographs at Impressions Gallery, York, in 1983. It neatly summarises Edwin’s life and illustrates Olive’s tireless promotion of her late husband’s work, which she maintained for thirty years after his death.
The text appeared in the catalogue for the exhibition, illustrated below.

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