The Peter James Lecture honours the memory of Peter James (1958-2018), a British archivist and curator of photography at Birmingham Central Library. It focuses on themes around archive management and photography reflecting Pete's own interests. It is organised by the Royal Photographic Society, Redeye and FORMAT International Photography Festival, and is hosted by Birmingham City University and GRAIN Projects.
The evening will be introduced by Nathan Tromans, Head of School of Visual Communication at Birmingham City University. It will be followed by an introduction to the Peter James archive now housed in BCU's special collections.
The main speaker is Hilary Roberts who will reflect on her long career as a curator and archivist responsible for developing and managing the collections of the Imperial War Museum Photograph Archive 1980 - 2022. Established in 1917, the IWM Photograph Archive is the custodian of one of Britain’s national collections of photography addressing the causes, course and consequences of modern conflict. Its collections comprise some eleven million professional and amateur photographs, as well as documents and photographic equipment.
The lecture will review some of the major developments of the last forty years which have impacted on our understanding of this most complex of photographic genres. It will consider the challenges of building a collection which is relevant, inclusive and offers diverse perspectives of events in changing times.
Hilary's talk will be followed by a Q+A. There will be opportunity beforehand to see an exhibition of Pete's camera phone photography and a selection of objects from his archive.
Hilary Roberts is a former Senior Curator of Photography at Imperial War Museums (IWM), Britain’s national museum of modern conflict. She studied at universities in England and Germany before joining IWM’s Photograph Archive as a junior curator in 1980. As the Archive’s Head Curator (1996–2013), she oversaw the development of IWM’s photographic collections which have doubled in size during her career at IWM. A specialist in the history and practice of conflict photography, Hilary has numerous publications and exhibitions to her name, including IWM’s highly praised trilogy of exhibitions Don McCullin: Shaped by War (2010-2012), Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War (2012) and Lee Miller: A Woman’s War (2015 – 2016).
Throughout her career, Hilary has worked closely with photographers, curators, researchers and writers who engage with contemporary conflict. Now retired from IWM, she remains active in the field of conflict photography. She is an advisor to the VII Foundation and a member of the Canon Ambassadors programme with a remit to mentor young photographers. Hilary was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Award for Curatorship in 2017.