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

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Closeups: Margaret Rodgers

Selections from the Thomas Bouckley Collection

23 January – 7 May, 2015
Opening: RMG Fridays, 6 February, 7-10pm
Artist talk with Margaret Rodgers: Sunday 22 February, 1-3pm

Local artist Margaret Rodgers has created a new body of work as an extension of her ongoing interest in Oshawa’s heritage.  Using photographs from the Thomas Bouckley Collection as a jumping off point, Rodgers has created a series of mixed media works that ask the viewer to take a closer look at scenes from Oshawa’s history. 

Rodgers places a spotlight on captured moments of figures that are otherwise easily overlooked in these photographs. The act of featuring these people in her work is a subversion of the original intent of the photographer, but allows the viewer to look at the image in a new way.  Rodgers deals with incidental images, often grainy or blurry, but those that are suggestive of daily life at the time. Most of the mixed media work centers on bystanders from various historical Oshawa events, calling up the manner in which we all become background strangers captured in other people’s photographs at one time or another. The works featured in Closeups are displayed using recovered jewelry trays from the basement at 20 Simcoe Street North, a building formerly owned by Burns Jewellers and further referencing Oshawa’s past. 

Margaret Rodgers is an Oshawa-based artist who has exhibited internationally and locally for many years. She founded the IRIS Group, a women artists’ collective, in 1996, taught art subjects at Centennial and Durham Colleges, and spearheaded many projects as Director/Curator at VAC Clarington.

Curated by Megan White.

For more information, please visit www.margaretrodgers.ca

Image – Margaret Rodgers, Fireman and Fan, Prospect Park 1900, 2014

Vintage Oshawa Photo Blog

“Hot Topics” blog posts come from the desk of Sam Mogelonsky, our Communications & Social Media Coordinator.

Have you visited vintageoshawa.tumblr.com? Every Thursday for #ThrowBackThursday we will be posting a photograph from the Thomas Bouckley Collection on the blog, as well as on our facebook page. These are amazing images that show the exciting history of our community.

The Collection was donated to the RMG by the late Thomas Bouckley, amateur historian and collector of Oshawa’s history. The entire computerized collection comprises over 2,300 historical photographs of Oshawa and about 100 works are featured in three exhibitions per year. Click here to Browse the online database.

The Vintage Oshawa blog is a place to share Bouckley historical images, as well as a place for residents of Oshawa to share their vintage photographs of Oshawa’s past, helping to create a visual history of the city. Please submit your images and caption information to help us grow this online collection. Questions? Submit your photo!

 

Image: R.S. Williams Piano Workers, 1910

 

Looking north up Simcoe Street at Athol Street, 1944

The Curator’s View: Oshawa Then and Now

This post comes from Sonya Jones, Curator of The Thomas Bouckley Collection.

Recently the Toronto Star published an article called “Oshawa: the GTA’s final frontier for development”, which details how and why Oshawa has grown and changed so much in the last ten years. The change in economy from reliance on the auto industry to becoming a knowledge economy, through four universities, as well as Durham College, is credited as being the reason why more and more developers are seeing Oshawa’s potential. Exploring how much Oshawa has changed since it was first founded has always been a priority of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. Starting with Bouckley’s vision for documenting his changing city, to continuing that tradition through Then and Now projects, the collection visually tells Oshawa’s story. In continuation of the Then and Now series, the RMG has once again partnered with the Oshawa Senior Citizens’ Camera Club to show the area of Oshawa that perhaps has seen the most changes: the downtown.

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From its humble beginnings as a small settlement community to that of a large metropolitan city, Oshawa grew out of the intersection of King and Simcoe Streets known as the “Four Corners,” expanding and growing on all sides.

Similar to the Then and Now: Oshawa Creek project, members of the Oshawa Senior Citizens’ Camera Club used historical images from the Thomas Bouckley Collection as a starting point, and photographed the Four Corners as it appears today. This exhibition of side-by-side historical and contemporary photographs is also accompanied by a short video created by the club on the subject. On view until August 29, this exhibition celebrates our changing city!

Details about this exhibition on our website: click here.

Oshawa-on-the-Lake, 1915

Vintage Oshawa: Summer in the City

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

Spring has sprung and summer is almost here! In the winter, it can be easy to go into hibernation, whereas the summer is a time to get outside for adventures and build memories. The days are longer and the weather warmer, allowing you to spend as much time as possible outside. For me it represents gardening, patios, hiking, and most importantly, vacation. Some of the best summer vacations can be “stay-cations,” where you spend your holiday at home taking full advantage of your backyard and seeing what your city/town has to offer. The Thomas Bouckley Collection contains many images showing summer’s past in Oshawa, including historical residents cooling off in the lake, relaxing, playing outdoor games, and generally basking in the sun. The images celebrate summers experienced in Oshawa and capture the spirit of the season.

Oshawa-on-the-Lake, 1915

Oshawa-on-the-Lake, 1915

With this in mind, we have launched our Vintage Oshawa: Summer in the City project. Each week summer images from the Thomas Bouckley Collection will be posted to our tumblr page (click here) so be sure to bookmark it!

Not only do we want to feature images from the collection in this online exhibition, but we also want to represent the city, past and present, by having the community post their own images of Oshawa in the summer. This could be anything from recent family barbecues in the backyard to swimming lessons at Rotary Park. How do you like to spend the summer in Oshawa? What are some of your favourite hot spots?

Sonya in the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Sonya in the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

One place I visit on my lunch breaks in the summer is the beautiful Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.

It’s easy to submit your photos or videos to this online exhibition. Be sure to include information about the images, such as a story, where it was taken, and the approximate date. Let’s celebrate summer and revel in memories built in Oshawa.

Help us create a visual history of summers in the city!

Click to visit www.vintageoshawa.tumblr.com