Past exhibition: CHINA: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-72

Internationally acclaimed photographic exhibition comes to Ballymena

Mid-Antrim Museum at the Braid is to be the only venue in Northern Ireland to host a prestigious photographic exhibition which reveals a rare insight into 19th century Imperial China.

On loan from the renowned Wellcome Library in London, CHINA: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872, has already been enjoyed by 282,718 visitors during its world tour which began in Beijing in 2009. Over 100 photographs from this collection will be on display at The Braid in May and June 2012.

Scottish- born John Thomson, a pioneer in photo-journalism was the first Westerner to extensively document China in the later 19th century. His photographs form a unique archive which intimately reveals a lost empire’s landscapes, architecture, people and customs.

It was no easy task that he set for himself. Not only did he have to transport all the paraphernalia required for a 19th century photographer, including a portable darkroom, but he also had to contend with the Chinese superstition which regarded the experience of being photographed as a portent of imminent death.

Thomson captured a moment in time in the lives of everyone he met. From a rag and bone man to the Emperor’s brother, his ground breaking work offers a glimpse into a vanished world. A remote world on the cusp of change, where, as the Qing dynasty loses its grip, the weight of foreign influences becomes more keenly felt.

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