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                                                                   © Photographic Restoration & Colourising: Oliver Clyde

3rd February – 19th May
Our first new exhibition of 2024 begins with “Technicolour Dickens: The Living Image of Charles Dickens”, presenting Dickens’ story through the medium of Victorian photography, with each image brought to life in full technicolour – giving the exhibition its name!

The exhibition was originally commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of his death in 2020 and was co-curated by The Charles Dickens Museum.
We are delighted to bring it to the Isle of Wight to coincide with it being 175 years since the publication of David Copperfield, partly written whilst the author was staying at Ventnor.

Using the pioneering world of this early artistry, Dickens was able to enhance his fame and reputation. In showcasing these works this collection will sit alongside the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, who although was not known to have met Dickens, there is a slight possibility that they met at Little Holland House soirées. However Julia did photograph many of his acquaintances such as Thomas Carlyle, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and William Holman Hunt, to name a few.

A film by Jamie Langton will form part of the Dimbola exhibition entitled ‘Dickens Island’. During his time on the Isle of Wight, Dickens befriended Tennyson who became God father to Alfred Dickens, Charles and Catherine’s sixth child and was named after him.

Dr Brian Hinton MBE on the exhibition and Dickens/Cameron Connection:
Charles Dickens and Julia Margaret Cameron make, on the face of it, an odd pairing. His world view embraces the grotesque, the sentimental, and the humorous   She celebrates beauty, the other worldly and the perfection of humanity   And yet both in their different ways identified character, and made work that outlasts the centuries .  He created a whole world of men and women, in all their aspects from grovelling to noble to laughable  She created Platonic ideals of the mother, the thinker, the artist and the visionary, from her all too human subjects.
Dickens was older, and though he may well have met Julia at the Little Holland House Sunday afternoon gatherings, hosted by her sister Mrs Prinsep after she came to England in 1848, there is no record of their meeting on the Island.  She certainly never photographed Dickens, though she did fellow novelists like Trollope, William Thackeray and his daughter Anne, and writers like Thomas Carlyle, Longfellow and – sadly now lost – Christina Rossetti
Dickens spent a brief holiday in Alum Bay, and a long summer in Bonchurch, erecting a power shower from the local stream, doing magic tricks, and writing part of David Copperfield
The link between novelist and photographer is a mutual friend, Alfred Tennyson. The future Poet Laureate visited the writers’ community, based around Punch magazine and the Revd White, which settled in Bonchurch.  It was from here, with the young poet Edmund Peel, that Alfred shared a small boat saling round the Needles, and having landed was shown the then empty Farringford, which he soon moved into.  It was there that his friend from Putney, Julia Margaret Cameron, spent many a happy visit, and Emily Tennyson found her the two newly built cottages which became Dimbola, and Julia’s home from 1860 until 11875
Dickens was inescapable over that period, not least because of the visual interpretations of his work by Cruickshank, Leech and others And the very photographic medium that Julia used, wet collodion, is the same that captured Dickens for eternity, now almost shockingly updated with skin tones from the novelist’s descendants, forms the basis of the Technicolour Dickens show.
We pair this with images of Dickens’ own circle of acquaintances and friends, photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron.

Technicolour Dickens was developed in 2020 by the Charles Dickens Museum, London, in collaboration with Oliver Clyde, with contributions from Dr Leon Litvack (Reader, School of Arts, English and Languages, Queen’s University, Belfast) and Dr Julian North (Associate Professor in Nineteenth-Century English Literature, University of Leicester).

The Charles Dickens Museum (Charity No 212172) is a fully accredited museum and is the leading centre for the study, appreciation and enjoyment of the life and work of Charles Dickens (1812-1870). The Grade I listed building at 48 Doughty Street is the only surviving family home of Dickens in London, and where he began married life, became established as a writer, and shot to international fame. Founded in 1925, the Museum holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of material relating to Dickens. With well over 100,000 items comprising furniture, personal effects, paintings, prints, photographs, letters, manuscripts, scrapbooks, rare editions, and legal & financial documents, the collection is significant for its breadth and depth, and allows us to explore the many facets of Dickens’s influence and legacy.

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