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Phyllis Nicklin's legacy

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Vivienne14

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Introduction


The PHYLLIS NICKLIN ARCHIVE has been created to celebrate the life and work of Phyllis Nicklin. This thread documents her legacy. Thank you to all BHF members who contributed information to this archive.

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Phyllis Nicklin's legacy

The vast collection of some 1,500 35mm slides taken by Phyllis Nicklin were, on her death, donated to the University of Birmingham by her brother Harold C Nicklin. The slides contain images of the city centre and a selection of districts and suburbs. Using her foresight and expertise, Phyllis created a valuable photographic record of the buildings of Birmingham, it's urban topography and street scenes during the 1950's and 1960's. For many years after her death the images remained locked in a university cupboard but, following their discovery by David Oram (creator of the Brumpic website), some 500 of these have now been digitised and publicised for us to enjoy.


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Projects
To date there have been two digitisation projects.


The Chrysalis Project
A selection of 446 slides from her collection were digitised by the "Chrysalis" digitisation project of the West Midlands Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. This set is viewable here :
https://epapers.bham.ac.uk/chrysalis.html


"NicklinUnseen" Project
More recently an additional 60 slides were reproduced in the Birmingham Post Supplement entitled "NicklinUnseen" (April 2015). At the same time these were also made available on the Brumpic Interactive table in the Birmingham History Gallery of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. This collection can be viewed here:
https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/creative/nicklin-unseen-brumpic-founder-unearths-8964211



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Exhibition
An exhibition of Phyllis Nicklin's work is planned for Autumn 2015.

All photographs by Phyllis Nicklin.
 
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Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
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all of the 611 new images found have now been scanned by david osam from the university of birmingham and will all be available to view on the epapers site sometime after april 2016...

the planning of the phyllis nicklin autumn exhibition is still on going....
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Mikejee went to along to the Nicklin Unseen seminar at Birmingham University on 1 June. These are his notes from that seminar. Thanks Mike. Viv.

"On Wednesday I went to the "Nicklin Unseen " seminar at Birmingham University geography department. At it several people discussed her work and related aspects.

It was introduced by Mike Beazley, from the university.

David Oram, who is responsible for bringing the remainder of Phyllis's photos to the public described how he became involved. After a brief description of her life, he described how, on enquiry, he was directed to a metal cupboard in an office and inside found treasure trove, a mass of carefully labelled colour transparencies, with date and position, and sometimes even time of day, only some of which had previously been available. With the university's permission he put some one his website, told people about them and decided that they should be publicised. He made a big point of saying that, despite some comments he had heard, they would never have been destroyed, though they might well enough have languished in the cupboard for a very long time if he had not come along. The university granted him access to digitise them , together with temporary copyright, and he endeavoured to get together an exhibition. With the aid of sponsors he managed to find the money for this and the snow hill , later university exhibition ensued apparently originally a large part of the money was offered by the developers of the Nat West tower site, who wanted to display some of them on the hoardings surrounding the site during demolition and rebuilding, but this later withdrawn as the developers then decided that they did not want the site to be associated with what had gone by (only by the modern crap that was to come - my words not David's). He, and mike Beazley before him commented on how much interest had been shown by so many people of all types in the exhibition, pointing out buildings they remembered, or did not, and those (few) which were still standing. Mike said he had found the builders at present rebuilding parts of the university were particularly enthused. this meeting apparently is the last stage of publicity of the photos he would make, as they soon would all be available online (though on questioning it could be seen that never did not necessarily always mean never).

Peter James was in charge of the photographic archives at the library, and is now a freelance photographic historian. He seems to have been one of the people "let go" from the library recently as an aid to the city's political manoeuvrings. He described some of the earlier collections of photographs of the city, often initiated at times of change in the city. Apparently there is a photo (daguerreotype) of a white building in Paradise St (a slide of which was shown) taken in August 1839, which is almost certainly the first of Birmingham, and may be the first daguerreotype of a building in England. He is trying to put together an exhibition of very early photos of the city next year. Whitlock was one of the first early photographers in the town around 1856. Later in the 1870s Burgoyne took 130 images of areas of the town which were being redeveloped in Chamberlain's clearances. He would often take a picture before and during the demolition and later of the resulting new buildings. Nicklin, in a way could perhaps be considered to be doing a similar job in the changes of the 1950s-60s.

There were some other photographers also at the time of Nicklin. Fairbrother took timed photos from the same spot of various landmarks, including the demolition of Mason College and the erection of the Rotunda. Other photographers include David Rowan, while some have used old processes to photograph recent views, giving them an interesting appearance.

Verity Milligan is a freelance photographer who discussed Phyllis's views from a photographic point of view. She considered her a very good photographer balancing and composing her shots well. A little discussion came out of her comments on people in the photographs. Verity thought nay had been positioned, particularly children, though pointed out that, at that time, children would flock to someone taking photos, unlike today when everyone does it. I also though many, if not most, had been taken at weekends, when she was not at work, because of the lack of people in many of the views . My photos were also taken at that time , and most are very empty apart from some with children playing. She agreed this was likely and David pointed out that this could be checked as all were dated, some with the time . She then briefly went into problems of how todays photos would survive in the future. Nicklin's survived in a cupboard. Today many are not printed and survive only digitally, and with changes in technology would todays photos be available in 50 years time.

Finally Josie Turner, principal development planning officer, BCC, spoke on future plans for the city. She was well versed in planning and political speak, and showed overviews of what was/might be planned for the city, with little detail. Langley is supposedly a target for expansion of the city. I am not quite clear where that is, and the plan showed on screen did not make it any clearer. She was pleasant, but her contribution would not have been missed.

There was a chance to have a glass, or two, of wine later in which some interesting discussions were heard. I was interested in talking to someone involved in the re-opening of the canal from Selly Oak to Halesowen (not through the tunnel as i initially supposed, because apparently , because of the geology, it is surprising the old one lasted as long as it did), but over the top. these plans are awaiting decisions by, amongst others, Sainsbury".

Viv.
 

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Morturn

Super Moderator
For anyone interested in seeing the images from The Grid Project, they will be on display at Moseley Art School on Sunday 5 May 2019 between 11:00am and 5:00pm. A chance too to see inside the refurbished building.
 

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
I think it might be because this was originally a closed thread Pedro. Maybe Warren can confirm .

The thread appears to be open at the moment so I shall close it again. Viv.
 
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