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Previously-unseen Edinburgh images take centre stage in Robert Blomfield: Edinburgh Street Photography


Edinburgh's City Art Centre is showcasing an exhibition of vintage street photography by Robert Blomfield, revealing part of a remarkable private archive of his work.

Blomfield practised street photography across the UK from the 1950s to the 1970s, beginning in Edinburgh. He moved to the city to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1956, when he was 18 years old.

Whilst a student, Blomfield pursued his passion for photography and spent his free time capturing life on the streets. He adopted an unobtrusive 'fly-on-the-wall' approach, seeking interesting or amusing scenes in the rapidly changing post-war period. An engaging manner and healthy disrespect for authority allowed him to get close to a myriad of subjects. 

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Blomfield used a pair of Nikon F SLRs to shoot his images, and did his own developing and printing in a makeshift darkroom set up in his student digs.

A subsequent medical career meant his vast collection of striking images - which number in the thousands and carry echoes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Vivian Maier - remained largely hidden, stored away in cardboard boxes.

In 1999, a stroke forced him to retire from medicine and put down his camera, and ten years ago, his wife Jane started the huge task of cataloguing and digitising these photographs. After her passing Blomfield’s three sons William, Edward and George, along with his brother Johnny, continued the project.

Robert Blomfield said: 'After 50 years I’m thrilled to be able to share some of my pictures with the wider world. Edinburgh is a city that remains close to my heart, and the interaction of its residents with this most dramatic of urban stages provided me with endless inspiration as a young photographer. The exhibition represents a personal view of life on its streets during the 1960s.’

Exhibition details

The exhibition runs from 24 November 2018 to 17 March 2019 at City Art Centre, Edinburgh. Entry is free.

EXTRA READ: Ten castles in and around Edinburgh

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