Picture Your Family in the 1930s

Aug 25, 2019


AUGUST 25, 2019 —The Pavilion’s shout out for memories and memorabilia of the past has seen us uncover some fantastic images of life on Bute, its people and their relationship with Pavilion. Apart from revealing aspects of Bute’s social history, these photographs give a flavour of how camera technology and techniques have developed over the years. From Kodak’s first camera and blurry photo in 1888, to the art of capturing the instant selfie or memorable family occasion on something smaller than a wallet, things have come a very long way from when the Pavilion opened in the 1930’s.

One such technique will be on show this weekend in Rothesay. The Pavilion welcomes internationally recognised documentary photographer, David Gillanders as part of the Pavilion’s ongoing Heritage activity programme. David will introduce us to the magical world of ‘Wet Plate Collodion photography’. Wet Plate photography dates to the 1850’s and was a popular form of seaside and holiday portraiture up to the late 1930’s. Today it is seeing a comeback in popularity of the technique – which requires emulsion plates to be made, sensitised, exposed and developed within a 15-minute window. A mix of science and art!

If you are curious about the process, call in to see David in action over the weekend and see the results in person. There’ll be a presentation of his own wet plate images and your chance to have a unique portrait made of you/ your family for free!

There’ll also be a chance of a preview on Friday 30th August 7-9pm at the Bank of Ideas, when David will be on hand to give an informal talk and demonstration of the process and cameras involved.

However, don’t wait. Numbers are extremely limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment

Where: The Bank of Ideas, (opposite the Castle) 17 High Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, PA20 9AS
When: Saturday 31stth August 10.00am-5pm and Sunday 1st September

Places are extremely limited so book early to avoid disappointment
To book your place contact Iseult Timmermans, Heritage Engagement Officer: iseult@rothesaypavilion.co.uk

For notes and further information contact Julie L Tait Executive Director, julie@rothesaypavilion.co.uk 07747770018 or
Iseult Timmermans iseult@rothesaypavilion.co.uk 07803 206269

Notes to Editor

David Gillanders
David Gillanders is a Scottish documentary photographer whose work has been consistently recognised internationally. His devotion to understanding the issues he documents, and his immersion into the worlds he photographs is incredible. This approach, combined with the unquestionable beauty and intensity of his imagery, has produced some of the most moving and insightful documentary works of our time.”

“I was born and educated in Glasgow, Scotland where my first interest in photography arose at the age of 14 through a love of boxing. I had been boxing since the age of 10 and wanted to make images similar to those that hung on the walls of the gyms.


By the age of 15 I was out of school and working as a carpenter/cabinet maker, which is a trade that still gives me occasional work and pleasure today. Despite a love of working with wood I wanted to re-engage with education and after gaining the required qualifications at night school I studied a Degree in Building Surveying.


10 years later photography had taken over my life and my day job had become an obstruction. With great support and encouragement from those close to me I gave up my career to try and make photography the focus in life.
I have never once looked back and consider myself to be the luckiest person I know.


I first fell in love with the process of making photographs before I started to understand the potential historical importance each photograph can hold. The photograph provides a window to the past for future generations, and as such should be valued and treasured as part of our heritage.


It is undeniable that the digital age has revolutionised photography, but sadly the digital explosion has very quickly had a detrimental impact on the traditional photographic processes which I first fell in love with.

My obsession with traditional photographic processes, combined with a genuine fear that they could be forgotten, led me to research the history of photographic image making and to the Wet Plate Collodion process of the late 1800‘s.