Exhibition of first female war photographer to be hosted in Thetford
PUBLISHED: 16:32 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 07:17 07 December 2018
One of Norfolk’s best photographers who was the first-ever accredited female war photographer and who pioneered autochrome colour photography will have her work exhibited in Thetford.
Olive Edis: Photographer will run from Saturday, December 15 through to Saturday, September 14 2019 at Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life in the town.
The exhibition will feature more than 60 rare photographs taken by Ms Edis between the years of 1900 and 1955 presented thematically starting with an introduction to her, followed by her technique and technical expertise, before moving on to her portraiture work and war photography.
Over the course of her 50-year career, Ms Edis developed her skills as a portrait photographer, taking pictures of a varied section of society including Edward VIII as the Prince of Wales and a young Prince Albert who later became George VI.
She also catalogued members of the suffragette movement such as Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, members of the Norfolk fishing community, and author Thomas Hardy as well as prime ministers David Lloyd George, Herbert Asquith, Arthur Balfour, and Ramsey MacDonald.
In 1918, however, Ms Edis was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to photograph the war work of women in Europe, becoming the first ever female war photographer and only the fifth official British photographer to visit Europe during the First World War.
Ms Edis left her estate to Cyril Nunn, who in turn offered the collection of photographs, prints, negatives and autochromes to Cromer Museum in 2008.
The majority of the material included in the exhibition in Thetford is on loan from the Cromer Museum with additional material from the National Portrait Gallery.
Oliver Bone, curator, said: “Olive Edis was a remarkable woman. She was well-educated, forward thinking, a visionary, an astute business entrepreneur and most importantly a talented photographer with a natural affinity for her subjects – however grand or humble each was afforded respect and dignity.
“Like the many influential and inspirational women that she photographed, Edis was herself a ‘new woman’. Edis’ photographic legacy is a national treasure.”
Robert Kybird, chairman of Breckland Area Museums Committee, added: “The sensitive and atmospheric photographs of Olive Edis are ripe for rediscovery and we’re delighted that Ancient House, Museum of Thetford Life is mounting this exhibition to bring her work to a wider audience.”