‘China through a lens’ on display in Limerick exhibition

A “SPELLBINDING” collection of photographs taken in China in the mid 19th century opened at the Hunt Museum last night.

A “SPELLBINDING” collection of photographs taken in China in the mid 19th century opened at the Hunt Museum last night.

The exhibition ‘China Through The Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872’ is on loan from the Wellcome Trust in London, who have owned them since the 1920s. Some of this collection has also been exhibited in Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library.

Director of the Hunt Museum, Dr Hugh Maguire, said this exhibition, curated by Betty Yao MBE, “is a spellbinding collection of photographs taken in China in the 1860s and 1870s. Photographs by John Thomson were among the first accurate representations of China brought back to the Europe and depict landscape, places and people. Their world mirrors ours today – a culture on the cusp of change, a culture evolving into the unknown. The museum is very honoured to be able display this collection for the people of Limerick,” said Dr Maguire.

The Scottish photographer first travelled to Asia in 1862, where he set up a professional photographic studio. Fascinated by local cultures, he settled in Hong Kong and made extensive trips to Guangdong, Fujian, Beijing, China’s north-east and down the great river Yangzi.

The museum hopes attendance figures will also be high for this exhibition, following the unprecedented attendance records for Gerry Andrews’ series of Limerick photographs in the 1970s. Dr Maguire said he hopes this exhibition will also entice Limerick’s Chinese population to visit the Hunt, as they seek to reach out to all the city’s ethnic communities. The exhibition is free to all and will run until December 2.