For artist, art historian and now collector Martyn Jolly, the magic lantern shows that came to prominence in the mid nineteenth century were much more than just the antecedent of today’s PowerPoint presentation.
They were just as common, but for their nineteenth and early twentieth-century audiences they could be uncanny experiences of phantasmagoric apparitions, powerful moments of collective witnessing, virtual journeys to exotic places, intellectual revelations of new knowledge, or even prompts for communal praying and singing. His collecting began when he realised that to really understand and appreciate the ‘magic’ of these objects that they needed to be used and with fragile collections in museums out of bounds, he began his own.
Unknown artist, Christian missionaries in the Pacific, c1850s
hand painted glass magic lantern slide
Collection Martyn Jolly