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Exhibition designers for Asian Art in London 2016

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Rare Photographic Collections
Asian Art in London

After the huge success of the photographic exhibition of Thomas Child’s collection at the China Exchange a year earlier. The same New York based curator and collector envisaged a new exhibition based on the photographic works of William Saunders.

SMA design were asked once again to work as exhibition designers and lighting design consultants on yet another one of these important rare photographic collections.

A British born photographer working in Shanghai. William Saunders produced mainly portraits but also local events and scenery around the 1870’s. This exhibition presented 33 rare photographic images of which 27 had been hand coloured producing unbelievably fine detailed photographs.

However this time around the exhibition curator (Stacey Lambrow) wanted to add something special. Her thought was to assist visitors in better understand the environment in which these images would have been created. We must remember taking a photograph 150 years ago with a Collodion wet plate camera required a lot of preparation before and after the photograph was taken.

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The exhibition curator idea was to possibly recreate a Victorian photographic studio. This would be similar in type to those being used by photographers around that period.

However at the suggestion of Simon Morris (one of our exhibition designers), it was decided not to produce an exact period replica of a photographic studio but something more of an art installation. By adopting this design approach it would improve continuity and cohesiveness with the rest of the photographic exhibition layout.

Our exhibition designers tried different positions within the exhibition space, along with various designs for the photographic studio, until the final version seen in these images was agreed.

"the exhibition was so much better for your ideas, efforts & design input" exhibition curator.

The exhibition space was equipped with only ambient uplighters for presentations. There was a complete lack of any track or directional lighting which would normally be present for any art installations or exhibitions.

As before our lighting designers had a temporary 12 volt tensioned wired lighting system installed using 3000K, LED lamps and fittings. Various light filters were added to the lamps to change beam angle and intensity. Whilst light levels (Lux) were measured an adjusted to agreed tolerances.


With the significance of these exceptional rare photographic images of every day Chinese life. Asian Art in London held their official opening at the China Exchange.  Asian Art in London brings together the world’s top dealers, major auction houses and museums for an event of the finest Asian art.  So this provided the perfect opportunity for VIP guests from around the art world to view these important historical photographic images. 


The photographic studio & exhibition were a huge success with an enormous increase in visitor numbers from the previous year’s exhibition.

The collector, curator and our exhibition designers were delighted with the end results. Especially so when reading the many lovely compliments in the visitor’s book from the general public, guests and scholars.

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