A Lancaster University researcher celebrates the work of local photographer Sam Thompson for a museum podcast as part of a series of local history podcasts and exhibitions to mark 100 years of Lancaster City Museums.
Dr Patricia Prieto-Blanco, a lecturer in digital media practice in the Department of Sociology, reclaims the work of Sam Thompson as evidence of the social fabric that sustained Lancaster in the early 20th Century.
Dr Prieto-Blanco chose a photograph from the 1920s portraying fisherman William Townley taken by Thompson.
Starting with the single image and then widening her reflections to consider the photographer’s portraits, his survey of Lancaster streets and alleys, as well as his landscape photography, Dr Prieto-Blanco argues Thompson actually enabled local working men and women to access photographic services.
“Sam’s portraits are special, unusual and valuable,” says Dr Prieto-Blanco. “He produced images of the working class in Lancashire using aesthetic devices reserved for the affluent classes at the time.
“He took these photographs while he was employed by the Rembrandt Intaglio Printing Company as a photographer, which suggests he didn’t charge for his portraits.
“So not only do Sam’s portraits contribute to emplace workers as equals to those who owned the means of production, but we are talking about images of affect not visual products.”
To mark the centenary milestone, 100 objects housed across the city’s museums are being featured in weekly podcasts featuring local people, experts and museum staff.
The celebration year will culminate in November 2023 enabling local people to vote for their favourite objects, which will result in a ‘100 favourite objects’ exhibition.
The podcast is available here:
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