Reinterpreting the work of Julia Margaret Cameron

How important are titles for artistic works? A new exhibition currently on at the Courtyard Gallery at the Collection in Lincoln explores this issue.  Seven contemporary artists were asked to respond to the titles of a series of images by nineteenth-century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron held in the Tennyson Archive, thereby reversing the usual order in which artwork and title come about. 

Julia Margaret Cameron, Mary Prinsep, c.1870

Julia Margaret Cameron, Mary Prinsep, c.1870

Each artist was asked to reinterpret the title of one of Cameron's images. Her titles were often borrowed lines of text drawn directly from the popular literature of her day. They use the archaic language familiar to Julia Margaret Cameron and her circle, sometimes jarring with her posed and narrative images. The artists were thus being asked to interpret a title that already had two contexts associated with it - the original text, and Cameron's image.  They responded to the titles in very different ways: the exhibition includes sound installations, sculpture, photography and illustration. 

Talking about the exhibition, Grace Timmins from the Tennyson Archive said:

 “That Cameron’s photography is still inspiring projects like this is a testament to its quiet power and relevance. Cameron’s titles were often borrowed from biblical and classical texts that were more familiar to her contemporary viewers than they are to today’s viewers. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the contemporary responses in this new exhibition.”

If you have a chance, why not go along and see Title: Reinterpretations of Julia Margaret Cameron? It's on until 12 June.