nick's blog

Photographing silhouettes

Our custom-built lighting stage made to photograph the silhouettes has been producing really good results during testing and we are now happy with the set-up we have for photography. Tomorrow we get our first main batch of silhouettes to photograph. We're going to do all the small ones first and then come back for the odd-sized, larger, ones later. Ellen and Yvonne will be amongst the volunteers doing the bulk of the picture taking and we hope to post a photo of them and the set up shortly.

Keeping the records straight

Ellen, one of our longest serving volunteers, has been very busy recently, transferring to an Excel document the observations about artists and their works made by Ms Diana Joll, our key silhouette expert. To date, most of Diana's notes have been in manuscript form and quite difficult for many of us to read.  A big thanks to both Ellen and Diana for allocating the time to undertake this vital work. 


We are now very busy developing our 'definitive' list of the artists who have worked in the past and producing biographical and work record entries for these people. Our main focus at the moment are those working between the mid-18th and late-19th centuries. Later, we will extend the list to cover more recent contributors. Amongst the real challenges associated with this task is determining when records that discuss different artists are really all about one individual who has been 'mis-identified' by earlier researchers and visa versa.


Workshop delivered

We had a wonderful time during Saturday's Silhouette Workshop, interesting papers, a fascinating talk by Diana Joll, (Secretary of the Silhouette Collectors Club), about how she became a collector, and a live demonstration of cutting by leading silhouette artist, Charles Burns. At the end of the day, Charles produced further cuts, to provide a representation of each member of faculty involved in the University of Brighton  'Silhouette Research Group'.

Publication delivered

This afternoon we took delivery of several hundred copies of, Profiles of the Past: Silhouettes, Fashion and Images 1760-1960, the Silhouette Research Group title developed over the winter and spring. Attendees at the silhouette workshop on 15 July will be the first to see the work, thereafter, it will be available as a .pdf download on the Profiles website and in hard copy via, The Regency Town House, 13 Brunswick Square, Hove, BN3 1EH, cost £5 (plus £2 p&p for UK delivery, when required). Cheques should be made payable to: The Brunswick Town Charitable Trust).

Meeting with Charles

What a delight, Charles Burns the silhouette artist visited today. We talked about the Profiles project and ways we might collaborate. He was enthiusisatic and offered several valuable ideas - more about these in due course. As he sat in our office, I asked him how long he took to produce a cut silhouette, his answer was, "would you like to see"? He then promptly produced my silhouette, exclaiming that the first one of the day was always made a little slower than subsequent works. The whole thing was, nevertheless, over in an amazing 90 seconds!

Silhouette workshop

On Saturday 15 June, 2013, we are staging the free silhouette workshop that brings to a close the work of the University of Brighton  'Silhouette Research Group'. Anyone with an interest in silhouettes is welcome to attend. 50 tickets are available, to book follow the link to 'Silhouette Workshop' on the home page at

Silhouette artists

Charles Burns is without doubt one of the greatest living silhouette artist in the UK and has cut many notable portraits, including two silhouettes of the Queen.

Photography matters

Taking high quality record photos of silhouettes is generally straightforward. In most instances, you have to deal with the issue of the glass in the  frame causing reflections but, overall, the process is usually fairly simple. Occasionally though, the silhouettes are painted onto the inside of convex glass and then the problems associated with reflection are compounded. We will be building a special rig to assist us get high quality results with such glass. A description of the rig, with photos to illustrate the arrangement, will follow, in due course.

Last SRG meeting

Today, our last University of Brighton  'Silhouette Research Group' meeting took place or, at least, the last one of this phase of work. Everyone now has a few more weeks to hand their work in for editing and then it's going off to the printers. Lots of finals exams, dissertation deadlines, etc, to cause stress as the deadline approaches, good luck all and many thanks for your efforts to date, looks like there will be some good research papers in due course.


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