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24/10/2021

Famed Clonmel photographer’s work now on exhibit

The Office of Public Works is delighted to announce an exhibition that showcases the work of one of Ireland’s pioneering photographers, William Despard Hemphill (1816–1902), a native of Clonmel.

The Office of Public Works is delighted to announce an exhibition that showcases the work of one of Ireland’s pioneering photographers, William Despard Hemphill (1816–1902), a native of Clonmel.

‘Silent Exposure’ - the Photography of William Despard Hemphill’ will open in the Main Guard, Clonmel on July 4 until July 31.

A well-respected medical practitioner with a wide range of interests, Dr Hemphill experimented with the latest photographic techniques and won several prestigious awards.

At a time when photography was a complex, expensive and sometimes dangerous pursuit, Hemphill was among the first to photograph in detail antiquities such as the Rock of Cashel and Holycross Abbey, as well as castles at Mitchelstown, Lismore, Cahir, Kilmanahan and Shanbally.

He was welcome too in some of the ‘big houses’ around Clonmel, including Newtown Anner, Marlfield, Knocklofty, Castletown Cox and Curraghmore, where there was considerable interest in amateur photography.

Hemphill’s images – portraits, still life, architecture and scenery – are records of immense historical value. They are also sublime works of art, inviting us to reflect on temporal beauty, artistic rendering and photography as interpretation.

A fascinating aspect of Hemphill’s work was his stereoscopic (3D) photography. This consisted of creating a 3D illusion from a pair of 2D images and was very popular in the Victorian era.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to view some of Hemphill’s stereoscopic images – experiencing them as the Victorians would have – through special 3D viewers known as stereoscopes.

This exhibition is being presented as part of the Clonmel Junction Festival and will be officially opened on July 3 at 7pm.

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