City Exhibition Gives Fascinating Snapshot of Brazil's History

The Birmingham Post (England), September 11, 2014 | Go to article overview

City Exhibition Gives Fascinating Snapshot of Brazil's History


Byline: Graeme Brown Regional Business Editor graeme.brown@trinitymirror.com

APIONEERING photographer's voyage to Brazil 121 years ago Avoyage to Brazil 121 years ago Ais being used as a catalyst to boost trade between the emerging superpower and Birmingham. Previously unseen photographs taken by Birmingham industrialistturned-photographer Sir Benjamin Stone in the South American country in 1893 are going on show at the Brazillian embassy in London. It is hoped the exhibition will help to foster greater links between Birmingham and Brazil, an increasingly key export economy, with plans to exhibit in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Sir Benjamin's vast legacy of photographs and glass negatives are housed at the Library of Birmingham and its head of photography Pete James is co-curator of the exhibition.

Mr James said: "They are the photographs which Sir Benjamin Stone took when he went on an expedition to Brazil with the Royal Astronomical Society. "He was one of three people to take what was a monumental adventure - it was three weeks just to get to Brazil and then another three weeks from there.

"There are about 250 photographs of his travels to and around Brazil, through the Amazon and then home. "It gives a unique view of what Brazil looked like at the time and these photographs have never been seen before." Sir Benjamin made it his life's work to collect and take photographs to create a historical record for generations to come as the world went through drastic changes during the rapid industrialisation of the late 19th century.

This was a feature of his work in Brazil, where he documented life on the beaches and ports along the coast and in the streets and marketplaces in towns such as Para Curu in the state of Ceara and also in the states of Maranhao and Pernambuco. He also documented his journey by steamboat up the mighty Amazon River, which contrasted with the relentless pace of industrialisation shown in images taken in Manaus, capital of the rubber trade at the start of the 20th century.

The expedition saw a group of three from the Royal Astronomical Society cart telescopes, cameras and plate glass negatives required to record a total eclipse of the sun to Brazil, with Sir Benjamin Stone serving as official photographer. …

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