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Pioneering Scottish photographer takes centre stage at St Andrews Festival

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First Stereo Portrait – Dr John Adamson, by Robert Adamson dated 1845

Pioneering Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson’s extensive collection, which has been donated to the University of St Andrews, will feature in a display as part of the St Andrews Photography Festival 2018.

The George Washington Wilson Photographic Collection, donated to the University’s Special Collections, consists of approximately 12,000 images and items, including 625 stereoviews, 30 albums and published books, lantern slides, a rare portrait portfolio and 10,000 individual prints and postcards.

The Wilson Collection adds to other important historic Scottish collections held by the University’s Special Collections such as The Robert Moyes Adam Collection and J. Valentine & Sons.

James Valentine and George Washington Wilson have often been compared by photographic historians, but two large collections housed in the same institution will give researchers the opportunity to study these collections together.

The Wilson Collection has been donated to the University by the private collector Mr David Jamieson, who has, over 30 years, accumulated nearly 10,000 images and memorabilia.

Mr Jamieson said: “I wanted the collection to be kept intact and believe that it will complement the existing photographic collection at the University of St Andrews quite well, particularly with its early links to photography through Sir David Brewster, a contemporary of George Washington Wilson. I hope that the collection will be a valuable asset for future research in Scottish photography.”

Rachel Nordstrom, Photographic Collections Manager at the University, added: “Acquiring a vast collection by such a prominent and well-known early Scottish photographer as George Washington Wilson helps us tell a more complete story of photography in Scotland. So often these sorts of collections are broken up and sold on by auction sites and dealers so it is a special gift to be given such a large collection brought together over time by one passionate collector.”

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Sir David Brewster by Lord Kinnaird, William Fox George, dated 1855-1870

The Collection will go on display as part of the St Andrews Photography Festival 2018 which is supported by the University in partnership with the local Business Improvement District (BID) St Andrews. The Festival takes place in venues across town over a four-week period, beginning Monday 1 October 2018. This year’s theme focuses on stereo photography and 3D images over the past 150 years. Eminent Wilson historian, Professor Roger Taylor will deliver his final lecture of the programme on the innovative Scottish photographer.

Festival organisers have partnered with the London Stereoscopic Company to deliver an immersive and broad programme of events and exhibitions, drawing on the rich heritage and extensive, historic photographic collections held not only by the University but also the greater photographic community across Scotland.

The multi-disciplinary project Thinking 3D, a collaborative research initiative between the University of St Andrews Art History Department and the University of Oxford, will be hosting several events and an exhibition in St Andrews as part of the Festival.

The Festival has also teamed up with the University’s Film Studies Department and the Byre Theatre to deliver a 3D Film Series showing every Sunday throughout October.

Running in tandem with the Festival, Special Collections is also hosting an international conference on Stereo Photography: Images, Inventions and Advancements on 18 and 19 October.

The full Festival programme is available online.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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