Unseen photographs by Phyllis Nicklin discovered
Phyllis Nicklin was a graduate and postgraduate of the University, and was later appointed staff tutor at the University in the Geography Department, where she worked until her death in 1969. She took photographs of everyday life in Birmingham and recently the significance of these images to the city has been recognised.
Emerging local online community group Brumpic, which utilises social media to share archive images of Birmingham and the surrounds, approached the University in 2014 to seek permission to use a number of the Nicklin images for an article in the Birmingham Post. Twelve images were selected from the existing digitised archive of 446, which can be viewed at: http://epapers.bham.ac.uk/chrysalis.html.
Following the article’s release the University discovered a large number of 35mm slides in a filing cabinet on the Selly Oak Campus that contained unseen Nicklin images. The University contacted Brumpic and an initial look through the box revealed that there are approximately 1,100 slides and more than 600 of these remain unseen by the general public. Brumpic have now begun the task of scanning the slides, in conjunction with the University.
'Phyllis Nicklin is an enigma. Little is known about her - no images of her appear to exist - and we don’t know why she decided to take the photographic images she did, or indeed the equipment she used to do this. We do know one thing for certain though, she has bequeathed us with a stunning visual photographic legacy of Birmingham and for that we are exceedingly grateful. What resonates the most with us about this collection is its simplicity and its honesty. Taken over a 16 year period, many of the images capture the beginning of the social housing revolution and the great changes taking place in Birmingham during this period. Many of the subjects she chose to photograph must have been seen as mundane at the time she was taking them; however the composition of many of her images is extraordinary. These images would have been used to aid Nicklin’s teaching at the University and she couldn’t have imagined how significant her work would become in future years.'
David Oram, Brumpic
A number of the unseen images can be viewed on the Brumpic interactive table within the Birmingham History Gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from 2 to 18 April 2015. A major exhibition is also planned for the autumn. There will also be a feature containing unseen images in the Birmingham Post on Thursday 2 April.
Further details will be released by Brumpic via their Twitter account @brumpic, Facebook account ‘This is Birmingham’ and website www.brumpic.com. If you have any information regarding Phyllis Nicklin’s life or work please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brumpic began life as a Twitter account in October 2013, purely to raise their own awareness of the city, they started tweeting their own images, but soon unearthed a mass of historical images and so began Brumpic.
Pictured: Bournville, Woodbrooke Rd Park 19 February 1961 by Phyllis Nicklin