Elizabethans one and all: huge new photo display shows the way we were

Elizabethans one and all: huge new photo display shows the way we were

A major new photographic installation charts the history of School photos at QE, as preparations for next year’s 450th anniversary gather pace.

The carefully curated collection of 232 photos of form groups, year groups, sports teams and prefect teams is displayed along the ground-floor corridor of the Main Building.

The installation, called Ties through Time, spans the decades from 1880 onwards, charting not only changing kits and uniforms, hair styles and even postures, but also the development of photography. It has been made possible by the work that has gone into QE Collections, the School’s free-to-use digital archive, which was launched last year.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It has been very exciting to have the ground floor of our Main Building transformed with this celebration of continuity and change. The photos are a striking visual representation of our inspiring heritage, showing many thousands of people with this one thing in common: they all attended our School.”

Mr Enright paid tribute to the late Richard Newton (OE 1956-1964), whose vision and financial support made possible the extensive work currently going on to organise and digitise the School’s archive ahead of the 450th anniversary of QE’s founding in 1573.

“One of the sparks for the entire QE Collections project was Richard’s desire to see the preservation of the old group photographs that used to line the top-floor corridor,” he explained. “He has left a great legacy to the Elizabethan community in Barnet and we are indebted to him.”

The new display of photos extends either side of the Main School Hall. When the earliest were taken, photography, which is generally considered to have started in 1839, was still expensive and required specialist knowledge. Following the introduction of the Kodak camera in 1888, however, camera owners no longer had to develop film themselves.

In the years since, camera technology has undergone frequent change, with, for example, the introduction of colour and, more recently, of digital technology, replacing analogue film.

Work on the installation was led by Surya Bowyer (OE 2007–2014), founding Curator of QE Collections, with creative input from John Mgbadiefe and Rachael Simcox at architecture and design firm Bisset Adams.

The photos in the display, and countless other images and documents , can be seen remotely by visiting QE Collections.