Lori Pauli is the Associate Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada, home to more than 25,000 photographs in a collection that started in 1967.
She has recently put together the exhibition 19th-Century British Photographs; the third in a series of five exhibitions of selected masterpieces of the collection of the National Gallery. This exhibition traces the development of photography in Britain over the course of the Victorian era; from early, salted paper prints, to daguerreotypes, to magnificent turn-of-the-century platinum prints.
I met Lori at a guided tour of the exhibition. Ann Thomas, also a curator at the National Gallery, whom I had met in one of the events I organized introduced me to her and we briefly talked about meeting up to chat about Mexican artists included in the collection amongst other things.
Not too long after we met and talked about astrophotography, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Ron Mueck, her twin sister and some of the cultural differences I have noticed while in Canada.
For my first contribution to The Stimuleye, I will be sharing some of the questions I had for her on the exhibition.
Miguel Batel: How did the idea for this exhibition came together?
Lori Pauli: Basically, with our drawings collection we started a series of exhibitions based on our holdings, so we decided for photographs we would do the same thing. The first one was modern photographs from the collection, then we did 19th-Century French, and after this it will be American Photography from 1900 to 1950.
The fifth probably will be either American 1950 to the present, or possibly our holdings of Canadian photography.
Will this exhibition be travelling?
It will, I’m not sure exactly where it’s travelling, we have had interest from across the country, and we are just deciding where its going to end up.
How many photographs did you have to go through, and how many are currently exhibited?
There are about 112 photographs in the show, and I think I went through 2,000 in terms of 19th-Century photographs from the collection, so there was quite a bit to choose from, which was great.
The exhibition features some of the earliest photographic techniques. Which are some of the photographs you would consider to be the most important?
Well, of course some of the earliest would be the daguerreotypes, and we have a really great daguerreotype, that is quite large format; I don’t know if you remember it, but its of a man called John Berret Nelson and its around 8” by 10”, its fairly large compared to what normal daguerreotype sizes are. It’s called a mammoth plate, its beautifully created – masterfully crafted- and it comes with its original frame as well, so that is a real gem in the collection.
In terms of British we have a lot of salted paper prints by William Henry Fox Talbot, so those are other also really important pieces, because that’s the inventor of paper photography, it’s really great to have those.
Are there any borrowed items?
No, it is all from the collection.
You acquired some photographs for this exhibition, any specially difficult one to get?
One of them was the piece of armour, we think its by a woman called Jane Clifford. She was married to Charles Clifford, who was the most important photographer working in Spain. He made a lot of use of Queen Isabelle II construction projects and he did use of her armoury and her treasures. We recently acquired that.