Search

Exhibition of first female war photographer to be hosted in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 16:32 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 07:17 07 December 2018

Olive Edis, by Cyril Nunn. Glass plate negative, 1953. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

Olive Edis, by Cyril Nunn. Glass plate negative, 1953. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

Archant

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.

Self portrait by Olive Edis. Autochrome, circa 1912. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)Self portrait by Olive Edis. Autochrome, circa 1912. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

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.

Tank on the Menin Road by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, 1919. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)Tank on the Menin Road by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, 1919. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

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.

Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII, by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, taken in 1920. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII, by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, taken in 1920. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

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.

Prince Albert, who later became King George VI, by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, taken in 1920. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)Prince Albert, who later became King George VI, by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, taken in 1920. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

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.

Thomas Hardy, by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, taken in 1914. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)Thomas Hardy, by Olive Edis. Glass plate negative, taken in 1914. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

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.

'Belcher' Johnson, by Olive Edis. Autochrome, circa 1914. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)'Belcher' Johnson, by Olive Edis. Autochrome, circa 1914. Copyright: Norfolk Museums Service (Cromer Museum)

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.”

Most Read

Latest from the Thetford and Brandon Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists