Pete James, former Curator of Photography Collections at the Library of Birmingham, was responsible for one of the national collections of photography for over 25 years. He is a double Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (2009, 2014) and was also awarded Advanced Senior in Imaging in the Creative Industries by the RPS in 2014. He was awarded the RPS/Colin Ford Award in recognition of his contribution to photography curatorship in 2009. He is former Chairman of the Committee of National Photography Collections, a member of ORACLE, the international photo curator’s forum, and is currently a founding member of the UK Photography Specialist Subject Network.
During the course of his career he has worked with a wide range of photography organisations in Birmingham including Ten:8, Building Sights, PhotoCall, Arts Council West Midlands, Photopack and Seeing the Light/Rhubarb. He is co-founder (2012) and Co-Director of GRAIN: the photographic hub and network for the West Midlands.
He has developed and delivered a substantial number of partnership projects with a range of academic institutions including exhibitions, PhD supervision, awards, conferences, lectures, research etc. He has been a visiting lecturer at a number of universities including BCU, University of Birmingham, Falmouth, Nottingham, Staffordshire, and Ulster and has presented papers at a range of academic and photographic conferences. He has been a portfolio reviewer at events such as Rhubarb Rhubarb, Format Photo Festival and for GRAIN.
He has researched and curated exhibitions of historical and contemporary photography at institutions including the V&A, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Ikon Gallery, the Library of Birmingham, The Royal Photographic Society, and Museum Africa, Johannesburg amongst other venues. He has written books and essays on historical and contemporary photography in Birmingham and is published internationally. He has organised talks, seminars and symposia, facilitated archive research liaison with artists and students.
He has a wide experience of all aspects of collection management with photo archives including acquisitions, accessions, cataloguing, conservation, education/outreach and publication. He also has substantial experience in project management and partnership working.
Before leaving the Library in October 2015 he completed working on exhibition / publication projects with Mat Collishaw and Broomberg and Chanarin. He was also a speaker at the Fast Forward: Women and Photography conference at Tate and contributed an essay for the catalogue accompany the exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke (Ikon July 2015).
He is currently working on a major virtual reality project with Mat Collishaw based on Talbots exhibition of Photogenic Drawings in Birmingham in 1839. His current photo-historical research interests focus on the early history of photography in Birmingham; the life and work of George Shaw and the life and work of William Sherlock.