Saturday was the day; World Wet Plate Day came knocking on the door and my mom and I left for the Frederick Scott Archer ceremony in London. We got up at 5 in the morning, left the house at about 6 for the train station in Liège Guillemis (what a wonderful architecture btw, hope to go back there soon!) where we had the train to Bruxelles Midi at 7:06. All went well, finding everything was much easier than I thought it to be.
We arrived in Brussels at 8:30 and we got something to eat. The train for London was supposed to leave at 9:30 and arriving at London at 10:30 local time. Unfortunately it got delayed due some technical issues. 15 minutes was not that bad. Finally we started boarding and the journey continued. During the trip the delays added up to a total time of 43 minutes. Hmmm, but okay, nothing to do about it.
The train ride was very nice and quick, only pressure building up in our ears going in and out of tunnels which was not that nice but before we knew it we were in London. There began the last bit of the journey to Kensal Green by metro. Very easy to find and at around 12:15 we finally did arrive at the place we had to be at. But the cemetery turned out to be quite a challenge in finding the exact spot of the event; it was so big! 70 acres of graves is massive and we got lost. I finally called Quinn to see where they were and after a bit of help we finally walked down the lane which took us to the exhibition and event part.
The event was really well taken care of. The space looked great, they had some nice sandwiches, coffee, tea and wine; all free to take. My mom went for the sandwiches as she was starving from the journey, I went to the gallery to see how everything would look and hang. Really beautiful! The framing was carefully done and looked fantastic! The plates were stunning to see, some really lovely work. One plate of 11×14 standing out to me as I totally loved that size!
During all that time Quinn was outside making plates with the help of Carl and John, discussing things with people.
We arrived too late to join the ceremony of the plaque for Archers’ grave which was a pity. Fortunately a Russian guy (can’t remember his name) wanted to take us to the grave to show it to us which was great because with 70 acres of graves it would’ve been hard to locate it on our own. So he took us there and right before we arrived at his grave we saw a dead fox lying on a grave. Pretty much decomposed and therefor making a terrible good subject to photograph. Unfortunately I only brought my D200 but better than nothing 😉 It’s a good thing that photographs don’t capture smell…
It looked very disturbing but fascinating at the same time. He probably didn’t die very happily and it makes you wonder what happened to him and why he chose to die there, if he chose that at all. The smell, as mentioned before, really wasn’t all that pretty.
After our morbid pause we continued to the grave of Frederick Scott Archer. Now, that was very pretty to see! The plaque really serves him justice.
That was totally worth all the effort and I’m glad I got to be part of that!
When we got back at the event place and talked a bit about the fox and how great it would look on Collodion Quinn decided to do a shot of the fox. So, people went packing the stuff to take it all over where the fox was lying. Luckily there were also cars present as some of the things were pretty heavy to drag all the way down there by foot.
After those plates we worked on a group shoot of every wetplater present around the grave of Archer. The chemicals were not very cooperative again so the shot had to be done twice too to get negative right. As far as I could tell, I am not into negatives, the second one looked really good and I’m looking forward to the result. My mom was very proud that she was asked by Quinn to do the exposure, taking off and putting back on the lens cap and counting as Quinn was a part of the group shot. She’s looking forward to the result as well! After that time was up for us; we had to head back to the metro and then St. Pancras to get on the train back home again.
We bought a book for my dad about the cemetaries’ history. He loves that. The weather in London was fantastic even though mentioned otherwise on the forecast. When we arrived at St. Pancras we ate some yummy sushi which was great. Then we headed back home and we arrived in Brussels at around 10:40. Bart and my dad came to pick us up there and we came home at around 12 something. What a day! We loved it and would like to thank all of you who made this happen!
This Saturday is the day people all around the world practicing wet plate photography will make one or more plates to remember and honor the founder of the process, Frederick Scott Archer.
On top of that this Saturday will also be the day that Mr. Archer will receive a proper plaque for his grave. This has partially been realized by the book made and sold of the “1 May Images” last year and by a special exhibition that has been organized at the place where Frederick Scott Archer is buried, namely Kensal Green Cemetary, Dissenters’ Gallery in London UK. The sale coming from the images collected for that ceremony will go towards the funding of that plaque. This Saturday will also be the unveiling of that plaque and Mr. Archer finally getting a finishing touch to his burial which, in his time due lack of money, was very modest.
I feel most lucky and honored to be part of this ceremony and I will be visiting Kensal Green this Saturday with my mother. I’m looking forward to the journey, to London, to meeting new people and of course, a lot of familiar ones!
If you feel like supporting this feel free to by last years’ book:
To order tickets for the ceremony in London (it’s free!) go here:
The Dissenters’ Gallery
Kensal Green Cemetery
Harrow Road 4RA
See you all in London!!!
Frederick Scott Archer was born in Bishop’s Stortford in 1813. He was a British inventor who, among other things, invented the Wet Plate Collodion process. The man died poor in 1857 because he did not patent his invention so did not get much out of it. One of the things he never received was a proper plaque for his grave.
The 1st of May has been chosen to be the day Collodionistas all over the world honor this mans’ endeavors by making a wet plate. Last year was the first of hopefully many more to come and a book with the results was published: Blurb Bookstore
Besides the obvious fantastic aspect of having a book made of the collected works, the primal goal of selling the book is to have this man a decent plaque made. To support this gesture even more an exhibition has been organized where the proceeds of the works sold will go towards funding this plaque. The place where the exhibition will be held is the place where Archer is buried, the Disssenters’ Gallery in London.
The exhibition will take place from 24th of April until the 8th of May. A private viewing will be held on the 23rd. The 1st of May the plaque on the grave will be unveiled.
Contact information and address:
Dissenters’ Gallery / Kensai Green Cemetery
London W10 4RA, UK
Tel: 079 04 49 50 12