Julia Margaret Cameron - and the mysterious children

I bought the picture of the two children above, from a second-hand shop in Notting Hill in the mid-eighties and I hung it on my wall in my flat in Maida Vale, above Marc Bolan’s hand basin (another story) and not far from Leonard Cohen’s suitcase (another story still). I often wondered who the children were and what they represented – were they meant to be angelic visions, or child-saints or divine messengers – and who photographed them and when was the photograph taken. The picture of the children seemed to hold some deeper intimation but of what I couldn’t say and that I guess was the strange beauty of it. As I drifted from house to house over the subsequent years, I took the picture with me and eventually, a photographer friend identified it as a Julia Margaret Cameron print and that was the beginning of a long love affair with this most enchanting of photographers.

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 79) was one of the most important and innovative photographers of the 19th century. Best known for her powerful portraits, she also posed her sitters – friends, family and servants – as characters from biblical, historical or allegorical stories. Her photographs were rule-breaking: intentionally out of focus, and often including scratches, smudges and other traces of her process. In her lifetime, Cameron was criticised for her unconventional techniques, but also celebrated for the beauty of her compositions and her conviction that photography was an art form.

Here at the Vampire’s Wife we understand that to be creative, first you’ve got to recognise the beauty in the world, but also to understand that the world reveals its loveliness to us uniquely and subjectively. Our duty is to embrace our own peculiar view of what is beautiful, and to create things that glorify it. That’s the general plan anyway! Anyway, we love Julia Margaret Cameron here at The Vampire’s Wife.

Julia Margaret Cameron