Hardman photographed many famous people, including this early portrait of Margot Fonteyn from 1939. © The National Trust
Mr Hardman’s Photographic Studio in Liverpool has just been awarded a prestigious European Union award as it prepares to open its new Discovery Room.
The National Trust-owned studio is located in the former home of photographer Edward Chambré Hardman at 59 Rodney Street and contains a photographic archive of more than 142,000 images that were saved after his death. Hardman lived in the house from 1948-1988 and is regarded as Liverpool’s leading portrait photographer of the mid-20th century.
The work that went into preserving them has won the house the Conservation of Works of Arts award and a 10,000 Euro prize in the 2006 Europa Nostra Awards, organised by the European Union to recognise best practice in heritage conservation.
“We are absolutely delighted with this wonderful Europa Nostra award,” said Tiffany Hunt, Regional Director for the National Trust in the north west. “It is a credit to all the staff ... who have worked immensely hard to ensure Hardman’s unique photographic collection is preserved for future generations.”
An evocative Harman study of a searchlight on Liverpool's Anglican cathedral for the Festival of Britain in 1951. © The National Trust
The house’s new Discovery Room, opening on March 22 2006, will form part of the visitor tour of the house and help to interpret this unique collection, providing glimpses into Liverpool’s social and cultural history, with many of the photos shown via a large DVD monitor.
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Alan Dean, will open the new facility and follow many former mayors by posing in the studios for his photograph. It will be taken using a plate camera similar to that used in Hardman’s day, which requires the sitter to stay very still while the picture is being taken.
“I’m delighted to be opening the Discovery Room which I’m sure will give us a great insight into the work of one of the masters of photography,” said the mayor.
“I’m also looking forward to following in the footsteps of former Liverpool Lord Mayors by having my photo taken in the traditional Chambré Hardman way,” he added.
The mounting room at the studios. © The National Trust
Hardman developed a process, which he called pictorialism, where he used soft focus, manipulation and retouching to create photographic ‘impressions’ or moods of people.
Along with explanations of Hardman’s methods visitors will also be able to handle vintage cameras and take part in an interactive demonstration explaining why his clients had to sit still for so long. A video camera will be linked to a TV monitor showing what happens when you move in front of a camera set with a slow shutter speed, as was the case in the 1950s.
A selection of Hardman’s photographic books and magazines will be displayed and it is planned that these resources will form an educational research facility for photographic students.