20
Sep
14

Exhibition: ‘Christina Broom’ at the Museum of London

Exhibition dates: 4th April – 28th September 2014

 

Look at the portrait of Christina Bloom at the bottom of the posting. Now there is a formidable human being. The look in the eyes shows determination and toughness, toughness to survive and succeed in a male dominated world. Broom taught herself photography at the age of 40 – “to create and sell photographic postcards – a trade which was thriving. At work between 1903 and 1939, she gained exclusive access to leading London events from suffragette processions to King George V’s coronation and became photographer to the Household Brigade, forging a unique relationship with the Guards” – and became the UK’s first female press photographer. She must have had something special … and then you look at her photographs and you realise what: spontaneity, structure, spirit and the rest. Her tableaux vivant in this posting are almost sculptural in their construction, the photographer ordering the elements, posing the people but then evincing from them a warmth and intimacy in their engagement with the camera that is quite remarkable.

In terms of structure you need look no further than The 1st Life Guards prepare to leave Hyde Park Barracks (1914, top photo below) or Captain Greer of the 1st Irish Guards and his machine gun team (Nd, below) to see how Broom arranges her subject matter. In the 1st Life Guards photograph the man standing at left, the man seated on the horse and the man second right stare directly at the camera forming strong triangular sight lines. This triangle is then crossed by the man third from left who gazes out of the picture perpendicular to the camera’s gaze. His gaze is then “crossed” by the soldier standing at right staring away into the distance at 45 degree angle away from the camera. This image is a masterclass in sight lines and positioning, complemented by the intimacy of the gaze of the soldier second from the right staring directly into the camera (see detail), and the women positioned on the staircase in the background. Magic is happening here.

Again, in the second image of the machine gun team the photograph is eloquently and formally constructed – the symmetry of the twin doors and white squares behind echoed by the horseshoe arrangement of the men with the machine guns pointing in opposite directions. The stoic words ‘MACHINE GUN SHED. EAST’ are emblazoned above the men as though to press home their purpose, but upon detailed inspection the character of the men shines through – the stiff upper lip, the wicked sense of humour and the cheeky chappy can all be seen in this otherwise formally posed photograph. Added poignancy comes with the knowledge that every single person in the photograph was killed soon afterwards on the battlefields of the Western Front. Evidence of the stress of the war can be seen in the photograph King George V and Queen Mary host a tea party for wounded soldiers and sailors (1916, below). Gone are the jovial bonhomie smiles and comradeship, to be replaced by bandages and bouquets, and gaunt-looking, wary, young, scared looking soldiers staring out at the camera. Terrific photographs from a skilled and intuitive artist.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to the Museum of London for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Christina Bloom. 'The 1st Life Guards prepare to leave Hyde Park Barracks and head to war, on 15 August 1914'

 

Christina Bloom
The 1st Life Guards prepare to leave Hyde Park Barracks and head to war, on 15 August 1914. They were destined for the devastating Battle of Mons.
1914
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'The 1st Life Guards prepare to leave Hyde Park Barracks and head to war, on 15 August 1914' (detail)

 

Christina Bloom
The 1st Life Guards prepare to leave Hyde Park Barracks and head to war, on 15 August 1914 (detail)
1914
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards prepare for war at the Wimbledon Common training camp in 1914'

 

Christina Bloom
The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards prepare for war at the Wimbledon Common training camp in 1914. Lieutenant HRH the Prince of Wales can be seen inspecting the field kitchen, having marched there from Wellington Barracks.
1914
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards prepare for war at the Wimbledon Common training camp in 1914' (detail)

 

Christina Bloom
The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards prepare for war at the Wimbledon Common training camp in 1914 (detail)
1914
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'Wounded patients from King Edward VII’s Hospital for Officers visit the Royal Mews in 1915'

 

Christina Bloom
Wounded patients from King Edward VII’s Hospital for Officers visit the Royal Mews in 1915. Originally set up after the Boer War by two sisters, the hospital treated injured officers during the First World War at its premises in Grosvenor Gardens.
1915
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'The 'Bermondsey B'hoys' from the 2nd Grenadier Guards' c. 1914 - 1915

 

Christina Bloom
The ‘Bermondsey B’hoys’ from the 2nd Grenadier Guards appear at ease for this informal photograph taken inside their base at Wellington Barracks sometime during 1914 or 1915
c. 1914 – 1915
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina-Broom-5-DETAIL

 

Christina Bloom
The ‘Bermondsey B’hoys’ from the 2nd Grenadier Guards appear at ease for this informal photograph taken inside their base at Wellington Barracks sometime during 1914 or 1915 (detail)
c. 1914 – 1915
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

 

“Today, the Museum of London announces a major new acquisition – the remaining photography collections of Christina Broom – the UK’s first female press photographer. The collection includes wartime photo of Rudyard Kipling’s son, Jack, who tragically died in the Battle of Loos, 1915.

Aged 40, Broom taught herself photography to create and sell photographic postcards – a trade which was thriving. At work between 1903 and 1939, she gained exclusive access to leading London events from suffragette processions to King George V’s coronation and became photographer to the Household Brigade, forging a unique relationship with the Guards.

Museum of London’s Curator of Photographs, Anna Sparham, said: “At over 2,500 photographs strong, this acquisition sees the museum add to its already significant collection of suffragette images by Christina Broom, with scenes documenting key moments of early 20th century London life. It also brings to light Broom’s diverse photographic oeuvre, traversing subjects such as royal celebration and occasion, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races, women’s work and predominantly London’s military activities before, during and in the aftermath of war. Whilst Broom’s images exude strength and relevance on their own, for me, it is the photographer’s own fascinating story of determination and entrepreneurialism that makes them truly come alive.”

The collection also includes a snapshot of Jungle Book writer, Rudyard Kipling’s son Jack, taken by Broom in 1915. Jack tragically died in the Battle of Loos later that year.

From Friday 4 April, highlights from this remarkable collection will be on show as part of a new, free display – Christina Broom. In this centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, the display focuses on Broom’s portrayal of London’s military life. On show is a small, yet poignant selection of stills depicting soldiers in London mobilising for war and leaving for the Western Front. A major exhibition focused on Broom’s life and photography will follow in the near future.”

Press release from the Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'Captain Greer of the 1st Irish Guards and his machine gun team' Nd

 

Christina Bloom
Captain Greer of the 1st Irish Guards and his machine gun team group together for this rather formal photograph, just prior to leaving for the war. They were all killed in battle soon afterwards.
Nd
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Eric Beresford Greer was the son of Sir Joseph Henry Greer and Olivia Mary Beresford of Grange, Moy. He was born in April 1892 at the Curragh, Co. Kildare. He was raised by his Grandmother Agnes Isabella Greer in Moy, County Tyrone. He was educated at Eton College from 1906-1910 and joined the Irish Guards in 1911. Eric B Greer married Pamela Fitzgerald around 13 Feb 1917. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Beresford Greer was commanding the 2nd Battalion of the Irish Guards when he was killed in action on 31 July 1917. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Beresford Greer was awarded the Military Cross.

His death near the village of Boezinghe on 31st July 1917 is recorded in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Irish Guards in the Great War’.

He had been in every battle in which the Guards were engaged since the opening of the war, including the fighting at Cuinchy, when Michael O’Leary performed the valorous deeds which won him, on the recommendation of Colonel Greer, the Victoria Cross. Enthusiastic in everything he took up, he interested himself much in athletics, and was the quarter mile champion of the army, and winner of the Irish Guards Cup each year from the time that he joined the regiment. While at Eton he also distinguished himself at the different sporting fixtures. He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the field and was also mentioned in dispatches. His younger brother, Lieutenant Francis St Leger Greer, M.C., fell in action in February last, having previously been decorated for conspicuous gallant in action. The late Colonel Greer was married a few months ago to the younger daughter of the Honourable Eustace and Mrs Fitzgerald of 2 Manson Place, Queens Gate, London S.W.

 

Christina Bloom. 'Captain Greer of the 1st Irish Guards and his machine gun team group together for this rather formal photograph, just prior to leaving for the war' (detail) Nd

 

Christina Bloom
Captain Greer of the 1st Irish Guards and his machine gun team group together for this rather formal photograph, just prior to leaving for the war (detail)
Nd
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'Soldiers from the Household Battalion leaving for the Front' 1916

 

Christina Bloom
Soldiers from the Household Battalion leaving for the Front bid farewell to their families from a platform at Waterloo Station in 1916. Broom made several similar photographs. For many relatives, they served as final mementos.
1916
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'King George V and Queen Mary host a tea party for wounded soldiers and sailors' 1916

 

Christina Bloom
King George V and Queen Mary host a tea party for wounded soldiers and sailors at the Royal Mews in March 1916. The wounded, including many from British colonies, were brought to Buckingham Palace from nine London hospitals.
1916
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Jack-Kipling-1-by-Christina-Broom-WEB

Jack-Kipling-2-by-Christina-Broom-WEB

 

Jack Kipling suffered from incredibly poor eye-sight, and had to wear very thick glasses to be able to see anything at all. When the First World War broke out in August 1914, Jack (then only aged 17) was desperate to join up. When he tried to volunteer, he was turned down because of his poor vision. He turned to his father for help. Rudyard Kipling pulled strings amongst his military friends and Jack was enlisted as a trainee officer, still under age. (Officers were supposed to be at least 18 years old, in order legally to join up). Tragically, Jack was killed in the Battle of Loos in 1915 at the age of 18. Kipling felt the loss of his son keenly, harbouring a tremendous amount of guilt for the part he played in Jack’s journey to the Western Front.

On the back of the photographic postcard, the words “Rudyard Kipling’s son – centre with glasses” are written in pencil.

Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'A lieutenant from the 1st Life Guards poses for the camera in August 1914'

 

Christina Bloom
A lieutenant from the 1st Life Guards poses for the camera in August 1914. He was later recorded as missing presumed killed during the War. Christina Broom’s stall can be seen in the distance just beneath the clock.
1914
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Christina Bloom. 'A trio of soldiers' Nd

 

Christina Bloom
A trio of soldiers, including an Irish Guard on the left and a Scots Guard on the right, stand together with their hopeful message.
Nd
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

Anonymous. 'Portrait of photographer, Christina Broom' Nd

 

Anonymous
Portrait of photographer, Christina Broom
Nd
Christina Broom/Museum of London

 

 

Museum of London
150 London Wall
London EC2Y 5HN

Opening hours:
Mon – Sun: 10 am – 6 pm

Museum of London website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top



Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

Join 1,854 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

September 2014
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Archives

Categories


%d bloggers like this: