Thresholds

An innovative exhibition taking place in Birmingham in the summer of 2017 aims to shed light on the pioneering role the city played in the early years of the history of photography.

Thresholds, a virtual reality art project by internationally acclaimed artist Mat Collishaw and photographic historian, Pete James, will take audiences back over 170 years to the dawn of the photographic era. VR headsets will allow visitors to walk around a recreation of ‘The Model Room’, an exhibition of Manufactures, Inventions, Models and Philosophical Instruments staged at King Edward's School, New Street, in August 1839.

This important exhibition, which included 93 photogenic drawings by William Henry Fox Talbot, was one of the first major public exhibitions of photography in the UK. Visitors will share the sense of the wonder and awe experienced by their Victorian predecessors, many of whom were seeing photographs for the very first time. The exhibition will include what are thought to be the two earliest surviving images made in Birmingham, two views of New Street made from King Edward’s School around 1842 and previously unseen material from King Edward’s School Archives.

Supported by Colmore Business District (BID) and partners including King Edward’s School and the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, and Birmingham City University, the exhibition will reveal how Birmingham was at the forefront of developments in the technology that revolutionised the way we see, record, represent and understand the visible and invisible world.

Having already secured support from a range of public and private funding sources in the city, Thresholds is now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. More information on the project and the rewards on offer – which range from downloads of digital wallpapers to VIP visit to the exhibition -
can be seen at: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1817545913/thresholds-vr

Thresholds will be premiered at Photo London, the prestigious annual international photo fair in April 2017. It will then be shown at Waterhall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, between June and September, alongside a series of related events and activities. It then tours to the National Media Museum (Bradford) and Laycock Abbey, Talbot’s former home, now a National Trust property, throughout the second half of 2017.

Pete James, former Curator of Photographs at the Library of Birmingham and now a Fellow at Birmingham Open Media said:

In 1880 a local writer cast Birmingham in the role as a midwife in the birth of photography when he wrote:

‘If Birmingham cannot claim to have originated photography, she is at least entitled the merit of having assisted at its birth. She can also worthily claim the credit of having given it substantial help as it struggled through many difficulties to maturity. She can, also, claim that she gave the new art most welcome aid and sympathy; and that some of the most successful photographic discoveries and operators have been amongst those of her own household.’

This challenging, exciting and innovative project will promote Birmingham’s pioneering achievements in the history of photography to local, national and international audiences.

Mike Best, Colmore BID Board Director, said:

Over the last five years CBD have worked in partnership with Pete James to present a series of innovative and award-winning photography exhibitions including Face to Face: Brian Griffin – a retrospective (2010); Take to the Streets: Photographs by Magnum Photographers (2011) and Nicklin Unseen (2015).
Following the huge success of the award-winning Phyllis Nicklin exhibition, we are now supporting Thresholds, a very different type of photography project which will engage and inspire audiences of all ages, and provide a unique way to learn about the significant role Birmingham played at the very dawn of photography.

Festivals & events

Essentials

Maps & Guides

Maps & Guides for your visit.

Read More

Getting around

Getting around Birmingham couldn’t be easier...

Read More

Explore

Search for places, events & accommodation...

Read More

Festivals & events

Take a look at what’s on now and coming up here...

Read More

FROM TWITTER

RT @BhamCityCouncil: #Vaisakhi celebrations in #Brum and #Sandwell this weekend. Find out more about events here https://t.co/yXvtz2nZmi #u…

RT @DigbethDiner: It's almost that time again! Street party from 5pm! Entry £1.50!!! https://t.co/ErYtPnuEvE

RT @staying_cool: @visit_bham and enjoy stunning views like this from our serviced apartments. Unique to Brum! #Birmingham #nightscapes #ci…

RT @unibirmingham: We're delighted to announced our @LapworthMuseum is shortlisted for the prestigious @artfund #museumoftheyear prize http…

Sporting highlights

Culture

Art Galleries

Birmingham’s art collection is as wide as it is impressive. 

Read More

Stage & Screen

From touring West End shows to showcasing local talent.

Read More

Music

A huge arena tour or an intimate gig?  You’ll find it here.

Read More

Film

Multiplexes, the UK’s oldest working cinema or art house cool?

Read More

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

A vibrant museum in the heart of the city with over 40 galleries.

Read More

Dance

A diverse range of dance groups and venues.

Read More

See More, Feel More

Come, stay and soak up the culture in one of Europe's most vibrant cities.

Read More

Shopping

Shoppinginbirmingham.com

Plan the perfect shopping trip with full store, centre and brand directories.

Read More

Shopping centres

From the world-famous, 21st Century Bullring to the Victorian elegance of the Great Western Arcade.

Read More

Vibrant streets

Linking the centres are Birmingham’s bustling shopping streets, packed with major brands and boutique independents.

Read More

Markets

Don’t miss Birmingham’s amazing markets – whether it’s the 850-year old Bullring markets or the...

Read More

Jewellery Quarter

Home to more diamond rings, finishing touches and tokens of love than anywhere else in...

Read More

Getting Married in Birmingham

We have everything covered from the rings right up to the venue itself.

Read More

Featured Itineraries