In the Blink of an Eye

St Andrews Photography Festival 2016*

Between 1843 and 1847, Edinburgh artist David Octavius Hill and his partner Robert Adamson, an engineer from St. Andrews, created thousands of photographic prints in a variety of styles, using  the technique invented only a few years earlier by William Henry Fox Talbot. In four dramatic years they produced some 3000 images and laid the foundations of modern photography.   Their calotype prints have been preserved in many galleries and libraries.

I stumbled on their story while writing A Kettle of Fish and  decided this would be my next project. I’m delighted to say it is now very nearly finished and will be published next year by Linen Press. 


In the Blink of an Eye

He had Edinburgh at his feet, but who would be by his side?

In 1843, Edinburgh artist David Octavius Hill is commissioned to paint the portraits of 400 ministers of the new Free Church. Only when he meets Robert Adamson, an early master of the new and fickle art of photography, does this daunting task begin to look feasible.

Hill is soon bewitched by the art of light and shade. He and Adamson become the darlings of Edinburgh society, immortalising people and places with their subtle and artistic images. 

In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of Hill’s life in the words of those who sat for him or were affected by his iconic partnership with Adamson. 

Tender, tragic and sometimes humorous, theses snapshots build a portrait of a man who knew art and science, love and loss, friendship and photography.

David Octavius Hill**

Praise for In the Blink of an Eye

“These exquisitely rendered tales reveal their truths with all the delicate resonance of the art they celebrate”
(competition judge Nick Bellorini)

“Poignant and charged with hope”
Novelist, short fiction writer and competition judge Vanessa Gebbie of  Chapter 4, The Bird of Wax

Image credits
*ASM Publicity  & Media
**Preus Museum, Norway

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