Why this book?
My first choice (and my favourite of the selection) introduces us to two of the pioneers of photography. Not only did In the Blink of an Eye teach me about the link between Robert Adamson and William Henry Fox Talbot (inventor of the calotype process), but I realised that I had stayed at one of the novel’s key settings – Rock House, on the slopes of Edinburgh’s Carlton Hill.
In 1843, the artist David Octavius Hill was tasked with painting the portraits of 400 ministers of Scotland’s Free Church, a commission so daunting it seemed almost impossible. It would take years to capture the likenesses of so many men. Only when Hill met Robert Adamson, a pioneering photographer, did a solution present itself.
Bacon doesn’t only give us Hill and Adamson, but brings to life some of the women whose names have been forgotten by history to life: names that include Jessie Mann, who is now acknowledged as the first Scottish female photographer. And because Hill, a respected artist, saw the enormous potential of photography, he was instrumental in changing opinion about photography. It, too, could be an art form!
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
In1843, Edinburgh artist, David Octavius Hill, is commissioned to paint the portraits of 400 ministers who have broken away from the Church of Scotland. Only when he meets Robert Adamson, an early master of the new and fickle art of photography, does this daunting task begin to look feasible.
Hill is soon bewitched by the art of light and shade. He and Adamson become the darlings of Edinburgh society, immortalising people and places with their subtle and artistic images. In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of Hill’s life in the words of those who were beguiled by…