The Taisho Photographer's House | Head On Photo Festival

The Taisho Photographer's House


Hamish Campbell

Festival Year :


Exhibition Description

Hidden atop a hill, deep in a bamboo grove in northern Japan lies a house full of history. Japan is full of abandoned residences, but very few offer us quite the same glimpse into the lives of its former residents as this one. Constructed some time during the Taisho era (1912-1926) and abandoned in the late 70s or early 80s, several generations of family lived here (likely the Matsunobu family based on documents remaining on the property), and one of these people was a photographer. I know this because tucked away on the second floor of the house behind a rotting door is a dark room, and littered amongst the debris resulting from years of nature's ingress were over 200 glass plate negatives.

These negatives afford us a rare glimpse into the life of the photographer, his friends and family. We see the house as its being constructed. We see a posed portrait from the photographer's wedding. We see local neighbours and school children. We see him reading a newspaper with a pet macaque perched on his shoulder. Many of these photos were taken in and around the property itself, which is now half collapsed and increasingly consumed by the encroaching bamboo.

In this exhibition I present my own photography of this peaceful small parcel of land as it exists today, alongside images taken by the Taisho Photographer, as well as images attempting to bridge the gap between these two eras. While some may find the images ghostly or confronting due to the level of decay, I find some comfort in knowing that a house which served for so many years as a bustling family nexus is now at rest amongst the quiet and peaceful natural surrounds, which are slowly and gently reclaiming it.

Exhibition Space

Dates and Times

07 May 2016 to 29 May 2016

Open Hours

Opening Hours: 
Wednesday - Sunday:
11:00 am-5:00 pm

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