Margaret Watkins - Self-Portrait, 1919 © Joseph Mulholland Collection
Close Up: Margaret Watkins
6.30pm Thursday 3rd June
Livestreamed through Facebook
For our twelfth Close Up artist talk we will be celebrating the enigmatic life and legacy of photographer Margaret Watkins, and celebrating the publication of a new monograph of her work, Margaret Watkins: Black Light published by diChroma Photography.
For this special event we will be joined by Anne Morin (diChroma Photography, Madrid); curator of Margaret Watkins - Black Light and several Vivian Maier exhibitions, along with Joe Mulholland (Hidden Lane Gallery, Glasgow) who has championed the Margaret Watkins archive since discovering it in 1986.
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.
She spent her childhood in Hamilton, Ontario where her father was a successful businessman and owned a large department store. She played piano, sang in choirs and enjoyed attending concerts. This life-long interest in music is reflected in her portraits of musicians or the musical titles that she gave her photographs: Domestic Symphony.
In 1913 she worked in a photography studio in Boston, and two years later moved to New York City. In 1919 she began her domestic still lifes, beautiful compositions of light, shadow, and rounded forms. In 1928 she left for Glasgow to visit her mother’s sisters and never returned to North America.
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 ceiling 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.
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