So, it’s a new year and I have a new project to get working on at the Garstang (hooray!). The museum’s next exhibition is planned for 2019 and shifts right back to the Predynastic Period; the time before the pharaohs. I don’t yet know what the detailed theme of the exhibition will be, though it is early days. What I do know, however, is that there’s a lot for me to be photographing, so my work’s already begun in earnest.
This past year has been an amazing year for me and my photography. From humble beginnings, taking a few photos for fun at the Garstang Museum, I’ve ended up photographing lots of beautiful ancient Egyptian artefacts, providing photography for the Book of the Dead exhibition and having my images up on the wall of the Tate Liverpool.
As I think back over the last year, and look forward to what 2018 has to bring for me, I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos and moments with you from the past twelve months. So, here’s my year in photos, month by month, for 2017.
While the Book of the Dead exhibition was on, the Garstang put in a successful bid for a week-long workshop at the Tate Liverpool. The workshop was based on the Book of the Dead exhibition, but was art-focused, without the artefacts. It featured my photography, prominently.
My last session at the Garstang was another busy one. As well as getting on with more artefact photography, the museum was hosting a talk by Roland Enmarch on the Book of the Dead as part of the UK’s annual Festival of Archaeology.
Having had a bit of a break from photographing artefacts while the Book of the Dead exhibition was being put together, I started back at the Garstang a couple of weeks ago.
Whilst having a bit of an explore of the storerooms, I happened upon some boxes of amulets; I knew immediately these tiny little objects could be great fun to photograph.
After numerous hours in the photographic suite, many more vying with Photoshop, followed by several weeks of nail biting, hoping my photos would make the grade, finally, we got there. The Book of the Dead exhibition opened at the Garstang on 19 May 2017 as part of Liverpool Light Night.
These last couple of weeks, I’ve been outside of the photographic suite and doing some glass-free photography (hooray!).
The two subjects I’ve photographed are:
Using Photoshop to repair papyrus that have sustained damage is a technique I’ve used for several images featured in the Book of the Dead exhibition. This blog post explains why the sheets of papyri are damaged and how I bring them back together in Photoshop.
The process of repairing papyri
So, what is it I’m doing when I’m repairing papyri? The purpose is to pull together and realign broken sections. The example I’m using here is from a copy of the Amduat from the Garstang Museum. The Amduat was a funerary text whose contents showed the nighttime journey of the sun-god through the underworld. This particular copy belonged to a lady called Tjaty from the 21st Dynasty of ancient Egypt (1077–943 BC).
Last week, I had my first proper session in the photographic suite. I spent the day in near darkness, photographing a couple of pages from the Book of the Dead.
But why were you in near darkness?, I hear you cry. Because of my arch-nemesis: reflections.
The papyri are encased in sheets of glass, which were cleaned beautifully by some of the museum interns before I photographed them. However, the now extra-clean glass was was extra shiny, and therefore extra reflective. Although the walls and ceiling in the suite are painted black, even low amounts of light were reflecting off the light fittings in the ceiling back down onto the glass.