We were set up to save Dimbola from demolition, for which the house was scheduled, and to preserve the home of art photography. Once essential building works were completed, we declared our intention to turn it into a museum, educational resource and arts centre, along the lines of Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex It was on this premise that we obtained a grant for the Foundation of Sport and Arts, to purchase the house, and used a mixture of private and public sponsorship to remove modern additions, and return the house as much as possible to what it was in 1870.
This mission is largely accomplished, though we still have work to do in the entrance hall, library, and exterior fabric, as well as the construction of a glass house now that a photograph has recently been discovered of what became Mrs Cameron’s original.
Building on this, our mission remains to carry out what we established with the Charity Commission as our key aims and objectives and take them forward, responding to changing cultural and social circumstances:
- i) to advance community involvement, education opportunities from schoolchildren to postgraduate research students, centering on the practice and appreciation of modern photography as an art form
- ii) to encourage and promote awareness and knowledge of the Freshwater Circle and conservation of the Freshwater Mile – leading from the Bay up to Farringford – through cutting-edge exhibitions, links with comparable museums and galleries, media slots and state of the art interpretation alongside a publication programme and series of talks and lectures, and a far more comprehensive website. To turn our library into a multi-media resource centre, both for visitors and through the internet and digital channels
iii) to explore connections between Mrs Cameron and the present day, reflecting artistic, social and cultural diversity and developing links with the Indian sub-continent, where she was born and died. We intend to further explore significant cultural groups and events around the Bay, including modernist writers like Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, JB Priestley and Christopher Isherwood, all of whom related with her heritage. Post-war, we act as custodian for the 1970 Afton Pop Festival and having already used this connection to host residencies by Patti Smith and Ergo Phizmiz, and working visits by Annie Liebovitz, which explore the interface of her vision in relation to cutting-edge rock music culture.
Among our long-term aims are to facilitate a full-length movie about Julia’s time at Dimbola, to encourage more residencies by contemporary artists, photographers, musicians and writers, to increase connection with US museums and the recruitment of interns to work here over the summer, and to dramatically increase our online presence.
In short, the mission of the Julia Margaret Cameron Trust is to celebrate the life and work of Julia Margaret Cameron, and turn her former home into an international level attraction for education, art practice and the production of contemporary artworks.