In the summer of 2013, the University Library set out to capture the reactions of academic and library staff when encountering their favourite items from the Special Collections Division. For this project, authors for articles for Treasures of St Andrews University Library (London, 2010) were asked to speak about the item or collection they highlighted in this publication.
Dr Luke Gartlan , Lecturer in Art History, talks about Through Cyprus with a Camera in the Autumn of 1878, by John Thomson. Published in 1879, this is one of several renowned works by Scottish photographer John Thomson, who travelled extensively, also photographing locations as distant as China and Cambodia. The lavish (and expensive) books he produced documented the life and photography of exotic locations, feeding the desire in Victorian Britain for a view of distant lands, filtered through the discerning view of Thomson’s imperialist lens. “This sumptuous publication exemplifies the topical enterprise of 19th-century commercial photographers and their mediation of Victorian public perceptions of foreign territories and peoples.” It also, of course, epitomises Thomson’s mastery of his craft.
The article written by Luke Gartlan about this item is to be found on pp. 48-49 of Treasures of St Andrews University Library (London, 2010). This short video is one of several which have been made based on the book. The entire set, which will be added to periodically, is available on the University of St Andrews Library YouTube channel.