The landmark exhibition Ilford Photo - Pioneers in Photography, which opened at London's Host Gallery on 16 April was extended by a week due to its unprecedented popularity. In addition, the collection is being preserved together in order to tour other galleries around the world, with New York a likely venue later in the year.
The exhibition, which shows more than 50 examples of iconic black and white images thanks to the cooperation of The Hulton Getty Archive, as well as The Estate of Norman Parkinson and Vll Photo Agency, demonstrates the superb results which can be achieved when using the new Ilford Galerie FB Digital photographic paper which is being heralded as the finest and most adaptable photographic paper ever produced.
The photographers whose work is featured in the exhibition include not only early exponents of black-and-white photography such as William England, and Eadweard Muybridge, but also masters from the mid to late-20th century including Maurice Broomfield, Cornel Lucas, Norman Parkinson, Terry Fincher, Harry Benson, and Eugene Richards, and modern photographic geniuses James Nachtwey and Gary Knight.
The images on display all benefit from the unique baryta base of Ilford Galerie FB Digital paper which gives the images bright whites and rich blacks, together with a panchromatic emulsion enabling the paper to print from digital files via laser printers such as the Durst Lambda and Océ Lightjet, and the Odyssey DeVere 504DS digital enlarger.
The images on show were all printed by Steve MacLeod, director of Argento Imaging of London, who also co-curated the exhibition with gallery director Jon Levy.
MacLeod is a leading light in Ilford Photo's Masterclasses which tour colleges and universities throughout the UK providing high levels of tuition in darkroom work for photographic students. “As this exhibition demonstrates, in terms of photographic post production and imaging, Ilford Galerie FB Digital is the holy grail of black-and-white digital printing,” he says.
“Apart from the superb results which can be achieved, this paper is so versatile that it has been able to handle images from every type of capture medium from glass plates to paper negatives, through to modern negatives and everything in between, as well as direct digital and laser projection. All of which have been encompassed in this collection.”
Howard Hopwood, Marketing Director of Ilford Photo, adds: “Being at the forefront of black-and-white photographic development means we are fully aware of the needs and requirements of our customers, many of whom now utilise digital technology for the capture and preparation of their images, while others prefer to still use film. With Ilford Galerie FB Digital paper, Fine Art photographers can benefit from the best of both worlds.”
Altogether, the exhibition presents not only an opportunity to appreciate the pure artistry and insight of the leading photographers of the day, and yesterday, but also an illustrated guide to the progress of photography itself, with particular emphasis on black-and-white photography and its relevance to the history of the developing world in which these iconic proponents of the genre worked.