‘…he wasn’t an easy gentleman to describe’: Museum of London – Kasia Wozniak

© Kasia Wozniak

The adventures of the world’s most famous fictional detective and master of disguise, Sherlock Holmes, inspire a new fashion photography series commissioned by the Museum of London, running until March the 1st, He wasn’t an easy gentleman to describe, features images by photographer, Kasia Wozniak.

Kasia’s photographs were captured on a large format camera dating from the early 1900s using the wet plate collodion process, where a glass or aluminium plate is coated using various chemicals, sensitized, exposed and developed in a darkroom within the span of around ten minutes. This early photographic process was first published by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851, gradually replacing the daguerreotype.

He wasn’t an easy gentleman to describe takes as its starting point quotes found in Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Snippets of descriptions of the appearance of men the detective encounters are reinterpreted with 2014 fashion. Using an elaborate process in an age of rapid digital image making, Kasia has captured an enigmatic young man wearing a variety of guises by leading London designers, such as Vivienne Westwood and recent fashion graduates, including Anna Bezgubenko, Charlotte Chan and Ed Lee.

In Kasia’s photographs, styled by John William, Conan Doyle’s line: “Don’t you remember the amateur who fought three rounds with you…?” from ‘The Sign of Four’ manifests itself in a knitted jumper pre-owned by a boxing instructor and pair of tie-dye outsized shorts by designer, Craig Green. Meanwhile, Sherlock’s experiments in medical laboratories are referenced through Anna Bezgubkenko’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, inspired by the protective clothing worn by dissectors and medical students from c.1890.

Beatrice Behlen, Senior Fashion Curator at Museum of London, said: “The streets of London are catwalks for parading individual style. Some outfits are easy to decode; while others are more difficult to read. Some appearances can be deceptive. Working with a young, London-based fashion photographer, we wanted to create a series of images that reinterpreted the clothing captured in Conan Doyle’s famous texts for today. Kasia’s photographic narrative catalogues a fantastical wardrobe for living and lounging in the city through the collections of established designers and recent London fashion graduates. I wonder what Mr Holmes would have made of it all?”

Photographer, Kasia Wozniak, said: “I have long been inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ and I couldn’t resist the chance to create a new and timeless fashion fantasy, using these as a springboard. My photography is an incredibly manual process and uses a great deal of chemistry – almost alchemy. While mixing the chemical solutions needed to take my wet-plate photographs and developing in my dark room, I felt a great affinity with Sherlock Holmes. He often spends his days at the chemical laboratory too.”

‘He wasn’t an easy gentleman to describe’ forms part of Sherlock Holmes season at the Museum of London this autumn and complements the major exhibition, Sherlock Holmes, that opened on the 17th October 2014. Through an elementary programme of events and exhibitions, the museum will peel back the layers of Sherlock Holmes and the London he inhabited, to reveal the roots of this global fictional icon that has enthralled audiences for over 125 years.

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The Museum of London has also developed a new London Tweed in celebration of Sherlock Holmes.