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Please note: RPS House is closed for our exhibition install. We will be open again from 10am on Friday 9th August 2024.

Past Is Prologue

Where do we go from here?

Studying stuff to move on

Readers of these articles may have detected an interest in photo history. This is not a purely academic interest - I am a firm believer in the concept that if you know how we got here we can have a better grasp of why things are as they are, and maybe how things could be different into the future. History informing the present.

Late last year I was with a group of conservation specialists at the National Archives in Washington DC. One theme used extensively in their displays is "What is past is prologue", the idea that history puts the present in context. They do not allow the use of cameras inside but they have thoughtfully engraved it on a statue outside the building and I wanted to note the thought for future consideration.

Recent events within the RPS led me to consider this phrase again as I believe it is being taken out of context. Over the last week I have attended a lot of on-line events, from Photo-Therapy to Documentary. We also ran our EGM on line to facilitate the appointment of Simon Hill as President Elect. I see a common theme here - the engagement and inclusion of communities that otherwise could not participate in these events if they were not on line.

This took me back to the full version of the quote. "What's past is prologue; what to come, In yours and my discharge" comes from Shakespeare. My interpretation is that the past informs us; what we do next is up to us. There is a whole load more on-line events planned - this can and should figure as a part of our future. When the pandemic lockdown is part of our Prologue we should learn from this as we plan the post-Covid RPS.

I will continue to study our photographic "prologue". I can feel membership of the Historical Group coming on!

Read more like this in President's News.