Julia Margaret Cameron at the V&A

First weekend back in London and of course it was pissing it down. 

Standard. 

So, what does one do on a day where rain plagues every inch of the air and you are dirt broke following the festive period?

Get cultural obviously! 

We are spoilt for choice here in London with our billions of free galleries and museums and so there is really no excuse not to be a cultural wizard...but given I had seen most of what I was currently on, I had to widen the search and educate myself with the Time Out list of the current top 10 photography exhibitions in London

Julia Margaret Cameron at the V&A was one that caught my eye (mainly because I'm in love with the V&A)... and so off we went, braced against the sideways rain. 

First off... just walking in the V&A is enough to make me break-out into a cold creative sweat. I mean seriously- have you seen the tiles!

I don't know about you, but just being in a building like a museum grounds me... there's something so humbling about being surrounded by massive columns of history and hearing the murmuring consensus of people far and wide agreeing that all this stuff is pretty damn cool... I like that. It makes me feel like I'm making a good, healthy life choice and enriching my soul. 

And nowhere does that to me more than the V&A... I'm pretty sure I could spend a week in there just looking at the floor. 

Aaaaaannnyway- the exhibition! 

There's 100 of Cameron's pictures here, the other half across the road in The Science Museum- both celebrating the bicentenary of Cameron's birth. 

Cameron was one of the experimental pioneers of 19th century photography and it certainly shows. There are blurs and burns and scratches, interesting lighting and allegorical poses. The pictures are often purposefully out of focus, creating a kind of dreamlike aesthetic that wouldn't be out of place in a modern, hipster-esk gallery. 

In fact, come to think of it, a lot of the photos looked like they had been put through that instagram filter from back in the day when everything looked like it was printed on crosshatched paper... 

These are pictures that remind us of the magic of photography- many of her sitters having to remain still for 4 mins- and many failing. They evoke nostalgia for an era of trial and error and perhaps that is why they remind me of the nostalgia present in modern photography. 

Though I must say a lot of it looks pretty stilted and unnatural where the adults are concerned... the pictures of the kids however, of which there are plenty, manage to somehow perfectly capture the dreamlike obscurity of youth. Where the mature faces look awkward and forced in an out-of-focus haze, the style seems to add to the innocence and un-formed character of the children making for some absolutely awesome portraits.  

All in all, a nice little mind-enhancing trip out in the rain!

Be sure to get an instagram worthy portrait outside before you go so you can see what you'd look like as one of Cameron's subjects! 

Hurry... you've got until Feb 21st to check it out. 

Jx