From “Mr Adair’s Bakery” to “Ms Austin’s Servant” the new exhibition at the National Photographic Archive (NPA), gives a historic glimpse into the daily lives of the Irish industrial family 100 years ago.
“Working Lives, 1893 – 1913”, running until May 2014, displays 19th century glass plate negatives revealing the people of Ireland, captured in the subdued quiet of their places of work. The images come from the Mason and Poole collections and represent an industrial family album: men, women and children employing the tools of their various trades.
The Mason lantern slides is a collection of 2,300 images by Thomas H Mason and Sons (5-6 Dame Street, Dublin) dating from 1893 to 1913. The images are of a wide-ranging set of historical images set to educate audiences as to notable places and people in Ireland’s history.
The Poole collection (some of which can be seen in this slideshow) is another glass negative collection from a Waterford based firm dating from 1884 to 1954. The Poole studio recorded people and events in Waterford and Kilkenny with most of the work being commissioned by clients.
Although mainly a portrait collection the topical views show daily life, development and industrial revolution in Waterford City.
Guest curator Mary Jones evokes the mood of the exhibition “Working Lives, 1893 – 1913”.
From one horsepower.
Bringing in the harvest, emerge legions of agricultural laborers to enter a brave new world of steam-fuelled turbines, the unremitting noise of power harnessed to industrial labor.
Industrial relations evolve.
From deference to defiance, from ‘knowing one’s place’ under the Master and Servant Act, and into the most difficult and contentious berth of early modern times. Markets and machines, the imperatives of control hooked to a web of sustained tension, a diversity of working people seeking rights and common cause, and a negotiated rate for the job.
Consider this largely unmapped field of vision.
Imagine the world in which such lives were formed; the hewing of rock, the casting of tools, the skills of mind and muscle caught in the art of laying a line of rail, or mining a seam of copper; the imaginative engineering implicit in the construction of a lace collar, within the linen woven to grace a royal table, or to carry a plane into flight.
Admission is to the exhibition is free. For more information visit www.nli.ie.