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October 13th 2021

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St Hugh’s hosts exhibition featuring the photography of Nancy Sheung (1914-1979)

St Hugh’s is delighted to be hosting an exhibition featuring the photography of Nancy Sheung in the College’s Hamlin Gallery from Friday 15 October until Monday 15 November, open daily between 9am and 5pm.

This new exhibition, specially created as part of the Photo Oxford Festival, looks at Nancy’s progression from pictorialism to her later work documenting Hong Kong’s architecture, buildings and landscape through her modern approach. It has been curated by photographic historian Dr Michael Pritchard, Director of Programmes at the Royal Photographic Society, and with the support of the Estate of Nancy Sheung.

Born in Suzhou, China, in 1914 to a well-to-do family Sheung Wai-chun, known as Nancy, moved to Hong Kong in the 1940s. A strong, determined, women, she successfully established her own business in construction and architecture. When Hong Kong’s economy fell into recession she had time on her hands and after seeing an exhibition of European photography in 1958 she turned to it as an amateur. As with her professional career she took it seriously, studying with local photographers, building her own darkroom and entering competitions and exhibitions. She evolved her own style away from the traditional pictorial aesthetic which was common at the time, to one that was contemporary and more in keeping with the mood of the 1960s and 1970s. Her work emphasises strong lines and patterns, and she frequently centres her camera on female subjects.

Nancy was practicing photography when it was dominated by men. Undeterred, she joined the Royal Photographic Society in 1965 and gained her Fellowship in 1971. She regularly exhibited in the RPS’s exhibitions. She joined the Photographic Society of Hong Kong in 1966 where she quickly made her mark becoming its Vice President in the 1970s. She died while printing in her darkroom in 1979.

Dr Michael Pritchard is a photographic historian and the Royal Photographic Society’s Director of Programmes. He edits the British photographic history blog and has broadcast and written extensively on photography and its history.

Visitors to the exhibition should go to the Porters Lodge at St Hugh’s College where they will be given a programme and admitted – there is no registration is required.

Below are some copies of the photographs on display at the exhibition from left to right: “The Pigtail”, “Zigzag” and “Untitled”.


This exhibition is part of the Photo Oxford Festival and is supported by the Confucius Institute at Oxford Brookes, The Royal Photographic Society and the Estate of Nancy Sheung.


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