Exhibition: 'Echoes of a Vanished World: A Traveller's Lifetime in Pictures'

Echoes of a Vanished World: A Traveller's Lifetime in Pictures
Photographs by Robin Hanbury-Tenison
Click Here for the Press Release.
Click Here for the images of the exhibition.

Exhibition catalogue available for sale.
A deluxe limited edition folio of Echoes of a Vanished World: A Lifetime in Pictures published by Garage Press is also available.
Click Here for more information.

Exhibition Dates

12 July to 30 August 2014
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth University
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23 September 2013 to 5 January 2014
The Julia Margaret Cameron Trust
Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Isle of Wight
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7 November 2012 to 30 November 2012
Link Shop, Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG

14 January 2013 to 10 March 2013
Olivier Exhibition Space, National Theatre, Southbank, London, SE1 9PX



Vanishing Faces & Places

Introduction to Echoes of a Vanished World: A Traveller's Lifetime in Pictures, by Robin Hanbury-Tenison

Thanks to the genius of Graham Ovenden, some of my simple early photographs have been turned into works of art. For me, this has been a miracle, as I have never thought of myself primarily as a photographer. During my ridiculously extensive travels around the world, I have always concentrated on looking and learning and trying to understand. Indeed, in recent years I have often deliberately not taken a camera, since I found that the obsessive need to keep my eye glued to the viewfinder meant that I failed to observe what was happening, to listen to the sounds and absorb the atmosphere. The fact that I had a mass of images did not compensate me in retrospect for the loss of the experience. Nonetheless, back in those early days I often was in extraordinary places, which have now changed dramatically, and with people whose lives have been transformed, not always for the better, by modernity. I snapped away and I kept many of the negatives. Graham is kind enough to say that I have an eye for form and moment, but I want to make it crystal clear that 99% of any pleasure you may derive from these pictures comes from his extraordinary skill at making photographic silk purses out of amateur pig’s ears rather than from any small talent I may have exercised when, fortuitously, I was in the right place at the right moment.

I travelled from Mandalay to Pagan down the Irrawaddy on a noisy little paddle steamer. For my protection, I was locked in a cage on the prow, since the country was at that time over run by bandits, who were likely to come on board and rob everyone. I slept on the deck wrapped in a mosquito net. My diet was two tangerines and a mouthful of rice. On arrival at the deserted city, then called Pagan, but changed to Bagan in 1989 by the military junta, I hired a dog cart pulled by an old horse and travelled lazily around the ruins. The capital of the First Burmese Empire in the 11th to 13th centuries, when most of the temples were built, Pagan was laid waste by the Mongols in 1287, after the king refused to pay tribute to Kublai Khan. An earthquake on the 8th of July 1975 destroyed more than half the original 5000 temples and many of those which survived have been badly restored since with modern materials by the junta, who have also built a golf course between them. Modern tourists see a very different and much diminished place to the utterly abandoned and peaceful wonderland I saw more than fifty years ago.