The extraordinary life and work of Christina Broom will be celebrated this summer in the first major exhibition of her work at Museum of London Docklands. Widely considered to be the UK’s first female press photographer, Broom began her photographic career in 1903 at the age of 40. Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom will include a cross section of her work, including Suffragette processions, First World War soldiers, official photographs of the Household Division and key London events, from the Lord Mayor’s Parade and royal coronations and funerals to historical pageants. These photographs will be joined by original glass plate negatives, and objects which build a fuller picture of Broom’s character and her career, including personal possessions, a suffragette banner, letters, press passes, notebooks and a cuttings album.
Broom was compelled to work, turning to the photography trade after her husband, Albert Broom, was injured in a cricket accident and she became the breadwinner. Although she had other female photographer contemporaries, they were mainly confined to the studio – she was the first to take to the streets to photograph newsworthy events, from her home in Fulham. Broom continued to be active over thirty-six years until her death in 1939, during which she made approximately 40,000 photographs largely selling these as postcards from her stall at the gates of the Royal Mews in London, an enterprise her daughter Winifred Broom was also part of, helping to print the photographs from the age of 14.
Anna Sparham, Curator of Photographs at the Museum of London, said:
“Broom successfully positioned her camera at the heart of momentous occasions both of London and national importance, capturing the beauty of a Suffragette spectacle alongside the poignancy of a soldier departing for War.”
The majority of the exhibition content will derive from the Museum of London’s collection of her work, including a recent acquisition of 2,500 photographs, supplemented with a few key loans from Royal Collections, The University of Texas, Austin and the National Portrait Gallery.
To accompany the exhibition Philip Wilson will publish Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom. The book, the first to pull together the broad spectrum of Broom’s work, will feature over 250 illustrated images and four critical essays from leading photography experts, including Anna Sparham, Curator of Photographs at Museum of London and Hilary Roberts, Imperial War Museum Research Curator of Photography.