Ashley Lumb, Project Archivist at ACOR, Summer–Winter 2019

Ashley Lumb has joined us as the next Project Archivist for ACOR’s Photo Archive Project.  Ashley is working with the archive from July to December, thanks to support from a grant from the US Department of Education (Title VI, 2016 to 2020).

Ashley at Petra, July 2019

Ashley obtained a master’s degree in the History of Photography from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2012, and has since worked at a number of institutions with photographic collections: Autograph ABP in London, the British Museum’s Middle East Department, and the Macleay Museum in Sydney. She has also worked as a curatorial researcher at the Royal College of Art in London, the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford and at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona. Ashley arrived in Amman from the CCP in Tucson, Arizona where she was researching the LIGHT gallery (New York: 1971-1987) for a future exhibition that opens this December.

Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Michael Barera, 2019.

Ashley’s experience takes on a particular relevance for ACOR’s photo archive because of her experience in the Middle East department of the British Museum. There, she worked with curator St John Simpson to catalog a small collection of personal photo albums from a British explorer active in the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to this, she worked on a collection of early 20th century Middle East postcards and a collection of glass plate negatives from British Museum expeditions in the Middle East. Working with early images of heritage sites across the Middle East proved a fantastic foundation for working with ACOR’s very similar collections.

In tandem to working with institutions, Ashley has a few ongoing independent projects. In 2012, Ashley started the curatorial collective Hemera with a group of three photography historians.  Working with established and early-career artists, as well as photographic archives, Hemera curates exhibitions and organizes public programs. Since launching they have curated over 15 exhibitions in the UK, Europe, US, and Australia for museums, festivals, art fairs, non-profit galleries, and universities. Hemera is currently working on a collection based exhibition for the Southeast Museum of Photography in Florida. Ashley has also branched out on her own and is independently curating exhibitions. She has an upcoming group show opening on November 7, 2019 entitled Now You See Me: Visualizing the Surveillance State at Photo Access in Canberra, Australia. At ACOR, Ashley is leveraging her curatorial practice to research ways in which ACOR’s Photo Archive can produce future traveling exhibitions.

An endeavor Ashley started five years ago was to launch the London Photography Diary and the New York Photography Diary websites. These websites list and review photography exhibitions and events in their respective cities. Maintained by volunteer editors, whom Ashley oversees, the sites are some of the most widely followed in the fine art photography world, boasting a current readership of 90,000 unique users a year.

The excavation grid at Zeiraqun (1988-1990). Photo from the Bert de Vries collection at ACOR (BV_J_S_038)

Facade in Courtyard of House III at Umm el-Jimal (1988-1990). Bert de Vries collection at ACOR (BV_J_S_079)

Ashley’s role as Project Archivist involves cataloging the collection contributed by Bert de Vries, ACOR’s Director from 1988 to 1991 and a longstanding member of ACOR’s Board of Trustees. Among other projects, Bert de Vries invests much of his time on the Umm el-Jimal Project in North Jordan. Working with 800 35mm photographic slides, Ashley is producing a finding aid, and digitizing Bert’s slides from many sites in Jordan (for example, see above), but with a particular emphasis on Umm el-Jimal. In addition to Bert’s collection, she will also be working on Kenneth Russell’s collection of 1,000 photographs. Russell, who died in 1992, photographed a range of archaeological sites such as Petra and surrounding regions, and other important archaeological sites in Jordan, as well as Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Iran. Ashley is carrying on the work of other Project Archivists at ACOR including Rachael McGlensey, Corrie Commisso, Jessica Holland, and Steve Meyer. Within the coming months, ACOR’s digitized collection, currently standing at 21,000, will include the Bert de Vries collection of 850 images, which will be available on ACOR’s digital platform the ACOR Photo Archive.


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