– as he prepares to unveil work at Edinburgh International Book Festival.
– The 71-year-old collected vintage photos since early days of touring with Queen
– Now owns one of the largest collections of Victorian photographs in the world
– Book contains modernised versions of photos with a 3D viewer designed by May
11 August 2018 – updated 13 August 2018 by Claire Anderson and Debbie White
Legendary guitarist Brian May is heading to the Edinburgh International Book Festival to launch an illustrated biography on the Victorian Scottish photographer, George Washington Wilson.
Wilson, who became the Queen’s official photographer in Scotland, is best known for his photographs of the construction of a new castle for Victoria and Albert at Balmoral.
The Aberdeen man spearheaded a form of 3D imagery which captured the imagination of the musician a century later.
The guitarist, who has been collecting vintage photographs since the early days of touring with Queen, owns one of the largest collections of Victorian stereo photographs in the world.
The new book contains the incredibly rare pictures of which May and his mentor, Professor Roger Taylor, had restored and then had to design and manufacture a modern 3D-viewer for, which is included in each copy of the book. The viewer, which looks a little like a pair of lab-glasses, is known as ‘The Lite OWL’.
May described the book as a ‘labour of love’, a tribute both to the photographer and Professor Taylor himself, who is an expert on Victorian photography and Wilson’s work. He is the author of the book although May is the publisher and has also written the foreword.
Professor Roger Taylor is
the leading authority on the artist
George Washington Wilson
‘For me, the realisation of this book is a double labour of love. I collected George Washington Wilson’s stereo cards over the years and have always been excited by his unique portrayal of Scottish landscape in the stereoscope,’ May said.
‘I’m very excited to see this beautiful book finally ready to launch.’
May was first inspired by stereoscopic photography when cards featuring 3D images were given away free with breakfast cereal in the 1950s.
It led to a lifelong passion for collecting stereo cards and the emergence of his London Stereoscopic Company – dedicated to restoring and republishing Victorian classic cards – as well as original stereoscopic works on other subjects.
May said: ‘It’s been many years in the making, and I’m confident it will have been worth every minute. ‘It presents the life and work of celebrated Scottish landscape photographer George Washington Wilson, who with great skill and flair, photographed the unique beauties of the Scottish countryside in the 1860s with his stereoscopic camera.
‘The resulting 3D images proved immensely successful and established Wilson’s national reputation as a pre-eminent photographer.’
Professor Taylor said: ‘During the mid-Victorian period George Washington Wilson became a household name for the consistent quality of his photographs.
‘Above all, he was universally acknowledged as a leading exponent of stereoscopic photography, a fashionable craze which fired up hearts and imaginations throughout the nation.
‘For much of the 20th century his work fell out of fashion and was largely disregarded, but this splendid new edition corrects this oversight by presenting his achievements in a way that invites a full reappraisal.’
Wilson who started off as a landscape photographer would walk miles across mountains carrying his heavy equipment which he later blamed for his poor health.
His success led him to construct what was described as the most advanced purpose-built photographic centre in the world, near his home in Aberdeen.
When it was gutted by fire in 1882 Victoria sent a telegram of sympathy from Balmoral.
He retired in the late 1880s, leaving his sons to take over the business, and died in 1893.
The launch takes place on Wednesday, August 15, entitled Picturing Victorian Scotland.