Photography Exhibition | Bill Rowlinson & Richard Nicholson


27 NOVEMBER 2009 – 27 JANUARY 2010

Bill Rowlinson: A Master’s Touch
Bill Rowlinson, doyen of black and white master printers, bequeathed his print collection to Photofusion on his death in 2008. His somewhat eccentric approach (such as staining a print with tea bags and smoking over it!) produced results that were highly sought after by photographers. He began printing for Sarah Moon in the late 1960s, bringing a wide range of tones to the dreamlike quality of her work, establishing his reputation as a master printer. Photographers began entrusting him with their work and advertising agencies looked to him when they wanted something ‘special’.

An advertising shot for Newcastle Brown Ale, by photographer Derek Coutts, won him his first Ilford Printer of the Year Award in 1975. The Ilford Photographic Awards ran for 25 years from 1968 and became unique by giving the printer equal billing with the photographer. Rowlinson was a regular recipient of these awards.

Photographer Bob Miller, who worked with Rowlinson over many years, recalls: “He once showed me a split-toned and slightly solarised print. On asking how it was done, he replied that he took some selenium (a dangerous chemical) and boiled it up on his cooker. He then took the print out to the garden and poured the selenium all over it, creating a look that noone else in the world could get. I put in my note book never to do this!”

Bill Rowlinson

Bill Rowlinson

Fellow master printer and photographer Adrian Ensor remembers how photographers “would beat a path to his door for that magic touch he would bring to their photographs”, influencing a generation who were coming to prominence in the 1980s before photography’s evolution heralded the three minute development time, drying in meths and then straight onto the wire. “Bill was an inspiration to me and to all those in the field of black and white printing; he took the profession to a higher level. He was always someone you could call, as long as it was late at night, for advice and guidance, of which he would dispense with his usual generosity. I miss those days when black and white printing was riding high, when there was a certain camaraderie of the darkroom, and Bill was always up there giving us pride in our profession.”

Chris Dickie, Ag magazine editor, adds: “Fleet Street’s darkrooms are all gone, and now the specialist black and white master printers, among whom he shone, are as rare as a hen’s teeth. Bill Rowlinson was every bit as rare as that.”

From the many esteemed photographers he printed for, Photofusion will be exhibiting a selection by Sarah Moon, Bill Brandt, Julia Margaret Cameron (Dimbola Lodge), Barry Lategan, Jon Swannell, Clive Arrowsmith, Jimmy Wormser.

Richard Nicholson: Last One Out Please Turn On The Light
Photofusion is delighted to show for the first time Richard Nicholson’s series. This project, begun in 2006 and shot on large format film, documents London’s remaining professional darkrooms. For decades these workspaces were the engine rooms of the British photographic scene, turning out iconic images for galleries, billboards and glossy magazines. Yet now they languish, struggling to survive in the new world of digital photography.

Richard Nicholson

Richard Nicholson

Nicholson’s carefully composed images shed light on private workspaces that were previously obscured by darkness. Enlargers stand proudly, like spiritual relics from another age, in chaotic rooms marked with the patina of time – a world apart from the contemporary photographer’s shiny computer workstation. By turning his lens on the printing process itself, Nicholson invites us to reflect on the nature of photography and the accelerating pace of technological change.

The series includes the darkrooms of master printers Roy Snell, Michael Dyer, Debbie Sears, Adrian Ensor, Brian Dowling, Mike Spry, Robin Bell and many others.