Saturday was the day; World Wet Plate Day came knocking on the door and my mom and I left for the Frederick Scott Archer ceremony in London. We got up at 5 in the morning, left the house at about 6 for the train station in Liège Guillemis (what a wonderful architecture btw, hope to go back there soon!) where we had the train to Bruxelles Midi at 7:06. All went well, finding everything was much easier than I thought it to be.
We arrived in Brussels at 8:30 and we got something to eat. The train for London was supposed to leave at 9:30 and arriving at London at 10:30 local time. Unfortunately it got delayed due some technical issues. 15 minutes was not that bad. Finally we started boarding and the journey continued. During the trip the delays added up to a total time of 43 minutes. Hmmm, but okay, nothing to do about it.
The train ride was very nice and quick, only pressure building up in our ears going in and out of tunnels which was not that nice but before we knew it we were in London. There began the last bit of the journey to Kensal Green by metro. Very easy to find and at around 12:15 we finally did arrive at the place we had to be at. But the cemetery turned out to be quite a challenge in finding the exact spot of the event; it was so big! 70 acres of graves is massive and we got lost. I finally called Quinn to see where they were and after a bit of help we finally walked down the lane which took us to the exhibition and event part.
The event was really well taken care of. The space looked great, they had some nice sandwiches, coffee, tea and wine; all free to take. My mom went for the sandwiches as she was starving from the journey, I went to the gallery to see how everything would look and hang. Really beautiful! The framing was carefully done and looked fantastic! The plates were stunning to see, some really lovely work. One plate of 11×14 standing out to me as I totally loved that size!
During all that time Quinn was outside making plates with the help of Carl and John, discussing things with people.
We arrived too late to join the ceremony of the plaque for Archers’ grave which was a pity. Fortunately a Russian guy (can’t remember his name) wanted to take us to the grave to show it to us which was great because with 70 acres of graves it would’ve been hard to locate it on our own. So he took us there and right before we arrived at his grave we saw a dead fox lying on a grave. Pretty much decomposed and therefor making a terrible good subject to photograph. Unfortunately I only brought my D200 but better than nothing 😉 It’s a good thing that photographs don’t capture smell…
It looked very disturbing but fascinating at the same time. He probably didn’t die very happily and it makes you wonder what happened to him and why he chose to die there, if he chose that at all. The smell, as mentioned before, really wasn’t all that pretty.
After our morbid pause we continued to the grave of Frederick Scott Archer. Now, that was very pretty to see! The plaque really serves him justice.
That was totally worth all the effort and I’m glad I got to be part of that!
When we got back at the event place and talked a bit about the fox and how great it would look on Collodion Quinn decided to do a shot of the fox. So, people went packing the stuff to take it all over where the fox was lying. Luckily there were also cars present as some of the things were pretty heavy to drag all the way down there by foot.
After those plates we worked on a group shoot of every wetplater present around the grave of Archer. The chemicals were not very cooperative again so the shot had to be done twice too to get negative right. As far as I could tell, I am not into negatives, the second one looked really good and I’m looking forward to the result. My mom was very proud that she was asked by Quinn to do the exposure, taking off and putting back on the lens cap and counting as Quinn was a part of the group shot. She’s looking forward to the result as well! After that time was up for us; we had to head back to the metro and then St. Pancras to get on the train back home again.
We bought a book for my dad about the cemetaries’ history. He loves that. The weather in London was fantastic even though mentioned otherwise on the forecast. When we arrived at St. Pancras we ate some yummy sushi which was great. Then we headed back home and we arrived in Brussels at around 10:40. Bart and my dad came to pick us up there and we came home at around 12 something. What a day! We loved it and would like to thank all of you who made this happen!
Thanks for such a wonderful and detailed report. It is nice to get the information, 2nd hand by someone who actually attended. The Headstone and site looked wonderful. A fitting thing to do for a man that has brought so many the magic that is Wet Plate Collodion!
You’re very welcome! It was indeed a marvelous gesture to the man who invented this process and got not much in return for it. The grave stone is really beautiful and it was great to be a part of.
Great you made some plates that day! They look nice!
Thanks so much for the snap and report on that day.
Although i’m not there, i enjoy much from you blog.
And i think everyone will happy when they saw your shots,
Keep on shooting by bike too!
– mk ho
Thank you for your comment! Glad you enjoyed it! You make some nice plates yourself. The ones I liked especially are the skulls in “Still Life” on your website. Really gorgeous!
What kind of equipment do you use outside as a darkbox etc?
thanks , i’m shooting in China from via wwpd to june. and will bring the plate come back to HK in June. it’s a very hard work shooting outside in other place or country with so many heavy gear. i plan this project for about a year. i use whole size plate and a portable darkbox, will show some snap in Q forum later.
And finaly hope you have a great exhibition!
– mk ho
What a great project! That is big and very hard indeed!. You have the chemistry with you or do you buy them when needed?
Good luck with that and I’m looking forward to your photos!