Ghosts of the Gallery

Public call for Ghost Stories about The Robert McLaughlin Gallery! After almost 50 years in the community, Oshawa’s art gallery has some history behind it, as do the many artifacts, paintings, sculptures and curiosities housed in our gallery vault.

The RMG is currently producing a short documentary titled “Ghosts of the Gallery” set to launch on October 2nd at RMG Fridays in our Friday Film Features screening room. In the spirit of Halloween, gallery staff are sharing their supernatural experiences on camera and we invite the public to participate as well!

A chill on the back of your neck, unexplained perfume smells, objects moving without the help of human hands, strange apparitions, orbs captured in photographs – we want to hear them all! Telling your story does not mean you have to go on camera, there are many ways we can include it in the film!

Please submit your stories by September 15th to:

Carla Sinclair, Manager of Community and Volunteer Development
Email: csinclair@rmg.on.ca
Phone: 905-576-3000 x106

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Hidden Mothers and “Tall Tale” Postcards

This post comes from the desk of Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection, Sonya Jones.

Researching and selecting images for the exhibition Mindful Manipulation was fascinating! Not only did I learn about darkroom manipulation processes but I also discovered some interesting things about early studio practices. For example, hidden mother photography. In the Victorian era, with long exposure times, mothers would often disguise themselves in different ways to hold their children still. Photographers would try to put the focus on the children by camouflaging the mothers as chairs, couches or curtains.

John Aubrey Morphy Portrait, 1891, Oshawa Public Libraries

John Aubrey Morphy Portrait, 1891, Oshawa Public Libraries

There is one example of this in Mindful Manipulation where the mother is draped to look like a chair. The photographer went even further in drawing attention away from the “chair” with a white vignette. This was done by dodging, a process that decreases the exposure for areas of the print that the photographer wished to be light. As a mom, I know firsthand how difficult it is to capture a squirming baby even with today’s technology, and I guess I’m technically hiding too, but behind the lens versus disguised as a couch! The example of the Morphy baby isn’t as creepy as other examples from this time period. If you Google hidden mother photography the results are hilarious and spooky.

"How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.", 1911, Oshawa Public Libraries

“How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.”, 1911, Oshawa Public Libraries

The other subject I found interesting in my research was Tall Tale postcards. These postcards began around the turn of the 20th century, and were especially popular in smaller communities where they would exaggerate food sources specific to the region. In Oshawa’s case, the tall-tale is that Oshawa’s rich soil produces gigantic turnips, and that fish were an abundant food source. Photographers would take two prints, one a background landscape and another a close-up of an object, carefully cut out the second and superimpose it onto the first, and re-shoot the combination to create a final composition that is often ridiculous but fun.

Join me on November 17 for a lecture about the history of manipulated images as well as the emerging field of digital forensics by Deepa Kundur.

For more information please visit http://www.rmg.on.ca/mindful-manipulation-tbc.php

 

Top image: “How We Do Things At Oshawa, ONT.”, 1917, Oshawa Community Museum and Archives