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Club Lunch: Through the Lens of John Thomson: an Asian Journey 1862 – 1872

Date: 8 Jan 2014 01:00 PM — 02:00 PM | Venue:

Speaker: Betty Yao MBE, Curator

12:45PM – LUNCH

Topic: Through the Lens of John Thomson: an Asian Journey 1862 – 1872

This talk explores the life and work of legendary Scottish photographer and travel writer John Thomson (1837-1921). Thomson set off to Asia in 1862 initially settling in Singapore, and from 1868 to 1872 he lived in Hong Kong. In these ten years he undertook numerous journeys and expeditions photographing many regions including Thailand, Cambodia (he was the first person to photograph Angkor Wat) and many provinces of China along the Pearl River, the Min River to the Yangtze River. He reached Beijing and Tianjin in the north and also travelled to Macau and Taiwan in the south. Photographs taken on these journeys form one of the most extensive records of any region taken in the 19th century. The range, depth and aesthetic quality of John Thomson’s photographic vision mark him out as one of the most important travel photographers.

To coincide with the exhibition at the HK Maritime Museum ‘‘Through the Lens of John Thomson: Hong Kong and Coastal China”, this talk with cover Thomson’s time in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia and how his collection of glass negatives have survived after 150 years.

Born in Hong Kong Betty Yao has lived and worked most of her life in the UK. Ms Yao stumbled upon this priceless collection of glass negatives at the Wellcome Library, London. She curated the John Thomson exhibition four years ago and has been touring it around the world. She also organises regular exhibitions at Asia House, London.

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