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Caroline Douglas

MPhil work

Retouching The Archive: Unknown Women in Early Photography in Scotland

Photography is much more than alchemy. Power and privilege were present at its very inception. The history of photography has long been constructed and reproduced in such a way that many of the living, breathing participants of its earliest period remain unknown. Principal among them are women.It is forty-five years since Linda Nochlin’s ruptural 1971 essay became a cornerstone for uncovering the institutional barriers that have shaped women’s encounters in the arts. We are only now coming to terms with how photography was gendered from its very inception. Early photographic discourse was replete with references to the female body, yet its qualification as art was secured on profoundly masculine terms (Galifot 2015). Women may have been cast as artistic, but rarely as artists in the late-Victorian era (Riches 2015). This gendering of photography, its close association with the female body, has been accompanied by the historical erasure of the agency of actual women, their hands, their thinking and self-activity that helped shape the medium through its fin de siècle phase. This PhD by project will explore the history of women in early photographic practice in Victorian Scotland, from female factory workers, ‘fillers’, at the George Washington Wilson and Co. in Aberdeen, to the unknown women in Hill and Adamson’s studio at ‘Rock House’ in Edinburgh. In doing so, it will also offer a creative response that explores the implications of this history for the discipline today. The PhD will take the form of a dialogue between archive and image; empirical research and studio practice.


  • MPhil


    School of Arts & Humanities


    Arts & Humanities Research, 2017–

  • Caroline Douglas is an artist working with photography and moving image. Her PhD by Project looks at the gendering of photography since its invention. Driven by the archival, haptic and optic, she focusses on the role of women in early Scottish photography. This work incorporates a range of photographic collections and archives, including; the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the University of Glasgow, and the University of St Andrews. The project is supported by technē - the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

    Caroline is a member of the steering committee for the RCA School of Art and Humanities open Research Network Speaking of Her. She is a contributor to Photomonitor, and has worked as a tutor and lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh Napier University.

  • Degrees

  • Postgraduate Master of Fine Art (with Distinction), The Glasgow School of Art, 2010; BA (Hons) Photography, (First Class), Edinburgh College of Art, 2006
  • Experience

  • Steering Committee, Speaking of Her, RCA Open Research Network, 2019; The Facture of Research; a process-led residency enquiry into method for artist-researchers, University of Cumbria, 2018; Art and Design Studies Tutor, (Photography), Edinburgh College of Art, 2012-2017; Photography Lecturer, BA (Hons) Photography, Edinburgh Napier University, 2012-2017; International Residency, Project Fabrika, Moscow, Russia, 2011; AiR Artist in Residence, Fondazione Fotografia, Modena, Italy, 2010; MFA Postgraduate Residency, School of the Art Institute, Chicago, 2009; Re:Create Artist in Residence, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2008; BA (Hons) Exchange, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, 2005
  • Exhibitions

  • 'SEND BACK THE MONEY!' An Evening With Frederick Douglass, Organised by Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray, (University of Nottingham) and Dr. Arun Sood, (University of Plymouth), The Jam House Edinburgh, 2018; FLIGHT MODE, Royal College of Art Group Show, Asylum, Peckham - Group Show, 2018; Documents, Lumen Studios, The Crypt, Bethnal Green - Group Show, 2018; Flash Forward 2016, Magenta Publishing for the Arts, Toronto - Group Show, 2016; BPF OPEN16 Showcase & Moving Image Showreel, Brighton Photo Fringe, 2016; Thingness, Künstlerhaus, Dortmund, Germany - Group Show, 2016; Mount Florida Screenings 01, Mount Florida Studios, Glasgow - Screening, 2016; Evidence, FORMAT International Photography Festival, Quad, Derby - Group Show, 2015; Zero Hours Creativity, Edinburgh Art Fair, Represented by Stills Gallery - Group Show, 2015; An Attendant’s Portrait, PHOTOUKINDIA, British Council, New Delhi - Group Show, 2015; An Attendant’s Portrait: A One-Day Installation at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 2013; Mémoire Involontaire, Columbia University School of the Arts, New York - Group Show, 2012; 9th International Helen Keller Award, Glasgow Caledonian University - Group Show, 2011; Reflection: Contemporary Visual Arts and Crafts in Edinburgh, City Art Centre - Group Show, 2011-12; Everything that comes before us, Project Fabrika, Moscow - Solo Show, 2011; Transience, Photography Open Salon, Arles at Gallerie Huit, Arles - Group Show, 2011; New Work Scotland Programme Annual Showreel, Collective Gallery, Edinburgh - Screening, 2010
  • Awards

  • Scottish Society for Art History Research Support Grant, 2019; The British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) Funding Grant Award, 2018; Women’s History Scotland Bursary, 2018; technē Doctoral Training Partnership, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), 2017-2020; University of St Andrews Library Visiting Scholarship, 2017
  • Conferences

  • 'Newhaven Madonna', Say Something Back: A symposium exploring forms of art practice-based research and feminism, TS Eliot Theatre, Merton College, Oxford, 2019; 'The Woman Who Was Alive There’: Hill and Adamson’s portrait of Newhaven Fishwife Elizabeth Johnstone Hall', Women, Work and Commerce in the Creative Industries, Britain 1750 – 1950’ Symposium, V&A, 2019; 'Capturing and Collecting: Thinking About Ways We Store Memory, History of Art, University of St Andrews, 2018; 'Retouching the Archive', Visiting Scholar Talk, University of St Andrews, 2017; 'For Arbus: Unconditional but Critical ', ARTIST ROOMS Kirkcaldy Galleries, 2015
  • Publications

  • 'Conceiving Reproduction', PROVA, the annual RCA Humanities Research Forum Journal, Issue 4, 2018