written by Caroline Benson, Photographic Assistant.
The current temporary exhibition at MERL features the work of the photographer John Tarlton. This wonderful collection came to the museum in 2004 and now, on the completion of the Rural Images Discovered Project, we are ready to promote its full commercial potential.
These two photographs showing domestic scenes & farmhouse interiors are quite a departure from Tarlton’s usual images. They are both quarter plate glass negatives and are amongst only a very few glass plates in the Tarlton Collection. I am often asked for interior shots by picture researchers and so I was particularly excited to find these – I was also pleased when the fireside image was used in the recently published Pitkin guide “Life on the Farm”.
Little is known about the two photographs. The fireside image is described on the negative envelope as “Typical Essex cottage interior; farm bailiff & his wife” and the other as “Typical Essex farmhouse kitchen showing C16th beams.” I feel the longer I look at these two photographs the more I see, until I can almost hear the tick of the clock, and certainly the smell of pipe tobacco.