The Essential Fenton

Roger Fenton, ‘Paradise’: A View on the Hodder, 1859. Albumen print. Wilson Centre for Photography.

This panel discussion brings together experts on the pioneering photographer Roger Fenton. Dr Sophie Gordon, Head of Photographs at the Royal Collection Trust, Dr Hope Kingsley, curator for education and collections at Wilson Centre for Photography, and Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, discuss Fenton’s extraordinary career, his ‘object photography’ and the exhibition ‘The Essential Fenton’, curated by Bob Hershkowitz and presented at Photo London in 2019.


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Dr Sophie Gordon is Head of Photographs, Royal Collection Trust. The photograph collection comprises the private and official photographs acquired by the British royal family from the 1840s to the present day. Her exhibitions and publications include The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton and Antarctic Photography (2009); Cairo to Constantinople: Francis Bedford’s Photographs of the Middle East (2013) and Shadows of War: Roger Fenton’s Photographs of the Crimea, 1855 (2017). Before joining the Royal Collection, she worked for ten years with the Alkazi Collection of Photography, a privately-owned archive specialising in photography from the Indian sub-continent.
Dr Hope Kingsley is curator for education and collections at Wilson Centre for Photography, focusing on the history, aesthetics, and preservation of photographs. Her exhibitions and publications include ‘Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present’ at the National Gallery (2012) and CaixaForum (2013), and ‘Painting with Light, Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age’ at Tate Britain (2016). She edited and contributed to the Wilson Centre book and exhibition, ‘Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840–1860’, at Tate Britain (2015), Yale Center for British Art (2018), Scripps College (2018), and Santa Barbara Museum of Art (2019).
Martin Barnes is Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) London, which he joined in 1995 from his previous position at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Since 1997 he has worked with the V&A’s National Collection of the Art of Photography, building and researching the collection and devising exhibitions. He was the Lead Curator for the V&A’s new Photography Centre which opened in autumn 2018. Martin has curated numerous UK and international touring exhibitions and published many books and essays.
Francis Hodgson is Professor in the Culture of Photography at the University of Brighton, having established himself as a critical writer on photography. Hodgson was for some years the writer on photography for the Financial Times, having previously been a frequent contributor both to the broadsheet and the specialised press on the subject. Hodgson has separately held a number of senior posts in businesses centred upon the photograph: he has been the Head of the Photographs Department at Sotheby’s auction house and creative director of Photonica and Image Source (both large commercial photo-libraries). Hodgson is a co-founder of the leading photography prize the Prix Pictet (on which he has twice served as chairman of the panel of judges). He has also been the chairman of judges on the Sony World Photography Awards, judged the Jerwood Awards, D&AD, British Journal of Photography Awards and AoP awards among others.