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National Coal Mining Museum

National Coal Mining Museum / Events / Wed 24 Jan to Wed 28 Feb 2018 (1 month)

Big Big Camera Exhibition

Big Big Camera Exhibition

Big Big Camera Exhibition

Wed 24th Jan to Wed 28th Feb

Special Exhibition Space

FREE entry

An exhibition featuring large-scale prints and negatives taken by acclaimed photographer Ian Beesley as part of his Artist in Residency at Gallery Oldham. All of the photographs were taken on a huge industrial process camera which was made by Hunter Penrose in the 19th century. Including new photographs taken at the Museum as well as a selection of poems by Barnsley Bard Ian McMillan, the Big Big Camera will make you think again about the process of photography.

"This project explores and contemporises some aspects of photography that are now lost in the digital age, from the sheer physicality of the equipment, to the delicate relationship with light and the uncertainty of a successful creation of a unique photographic image, this is photography in its purest but most demanding form."

Meet photographer Ian Beesley and his big big camera on loan from Gallery Oldham (selected dates only).

Saddleworth photographer Ian Beesley has brought a giant piece of manufacturing heritage back into use after finding it in the stores at Gallery Oldham.

Ian’s well trained eye was caught by a large Hunter Penrose industrial process camera. The vintage piece had been used in the manufacture of wallpaper at Rome Mill in Springhead for many years before being donated to the Oldham Gallery. Within seconds of seeing the wooden camera he made a snap decision to restore it and get it back in working order.

The work involved specialist restoration of the lens as well as a good deal of cleaning. Most importantly Ian had to meet the challenge of using a camera that was designed for huge negatives 20 inches square. His solution was to create a grid which could take smaller negatives resulting in images made up of 20 separate prints.

The next step was to take the camera out on the road. A transit van was required to transport it and with a little modification this also doubled as a darkroom enabling the slides to be reloaded out in the field.

Ian said:“Wherever we took this camera people were fascinated by its scale and by the effort involved in making just one image. It has been great fun and a real challenge getting this far and I’m hoping to produce a full scale exhibition with this camera eventually.”

For more information visit

Event Location

National Coal Mining Museum for England

Caphouse Colliery,
New Road,

Telephone: 01924 848 806

Event Details



Age group

Adults, Families