Margaret Watkins was a photographer of portraits and landscapes, still lifes, street scenes and works of early advertising and commercial designs. In the 1920s she was at the height of her career, living in New York City, winning prizes in international exhibitions and teaching at the renowned Clarence H. White School of Photography.
Prior to her death in 1969 she gave a present to her neighbour, gallery proprietor Joe Mulholland, a large box wrapped in brown paper, tied and sealed with wax, but with one condition: he was not to open it until after her death. In her years as a recluse in Glasgow, she never once mentioned photography, the field in which she had excelled.
For almost 50 years Joe Mulholland has worked to establish her position in the history of photography and as a great artist. A major exhibition in the National Gallery of Canada in 2012 gave her the accolade that had eluded her in her lifetime. She is now represented in many major international public collections and her work has appeared in dozens of books.
Image by Margaret Watkins © Joseph Mulholland Collection
Street Level Photoworks hosted their twelfth Close Up talk, focussing on the mysterious life of Margaret Watkins, shining a light on what could have been her forgotten archive. Joseph Mulholland (Hidden Lane Gallery, Glasgow) and Anne Morin (diChroma Photography, Madrid) discussed her background, her career, the discovery of her photographs and also curating the current show Margaret Watkins – Black Light at diChroma Photography.
Watch Back – Close Up: Margaret Watkins
Visit the diChroma Photography website for more information on current exhibition Margaret Watkins – Black Light which will tour several venues throughout this year and 2022.
Install shots from the show are by Juantxo Egaña.