Hannah Maynard
1834-1918
Hannah Maynard
Hannah Maynard
Detail of A-01507

Hannah Hatherly Maynard was a woman of extraordinary character and independence. Born in Bude, England in 1834 she married Richard Maynard in 1852 sailed with him to Canada West where they lived in Bowmanville, in what is now the province of Ontario. They subsequently emigrated to the Colony of Vancouver Island along with their 4 children in 1862.

They brought cameras, photographic supplies, and studio equipment, and Hannah became one of British Columbia's first professional photographers.

Photographic Studio
Hannah Maynard's
Photographic Studio
Detail of C-08993

Hannah, having learned photography in Ontario, opened one of the city's first portrait studios, Mrs. R. Maynard's Photographic Gallery on Johnson Street.

Richard, a shoemaker by trade, opened an adjoining boot and shoe store.

The Maynards travelled throughout the Pacific Northwest, creating an extensive collection of negatives. Hannah Maynard's photographs, however, are interesting for more than historical reasons.

Photosculpture
Hannah Maynard's Photosculpture
Detail of F-05095
She experimented with every new photographic technique, and developed a vision that was surreal and unique. She was obsessed with her children, and haunted by the deaths in the family.

Her images of cascading children's faces crammed into one montage, or the appearance of truncated bodies represents this idea.

Hannah on Bicycle
Hannah Maynard on a bicycle
Detail of F-05070
An example of her innovation was her attempt to photograph figures in motion. At this time because of the limits of the technology, it was almost impossible to capture movement in the photograph, but Hannah, by seating herself on a bicycle in a stationary position, sought to impart the illusion of movement in this 1890 photograph.

When the Maynards arrived in Victoria it was a decidely undeveloped town, in many cases there were simply tents and shacks as dwellings. In the next fifty years Victoria changed from a makeshift town into a city of stylish residences and impressive commercial blocks.

In 1862 a woman in business was considered very unconventional. A newspaper article written many years later claimed that Hannah's bold entry into the business world so astonished prim Victorians that many people chose not to patronize her studio.

While both Hannah and her husband Richard practised landscape photography, Hannah's most adventurous work had to do with with techniques such as photosculpture, multiple exposures, composite images, and cut-and-paste montage.

Hannah Maynard
Example of Multiple Exposure
Detail of F-02850
Hannah liked the idea of suspension. She would do this by using the same person twice in the same space at a single moment, or using a person standing beside or opposite his double on one exposed plate. She experimented with mirrors and the possibilities of infinity contained within them, as well as pursuing the technical problems posed by multiples, to push her surrealism.

Hannah placed herself in complicated settings, taking certain technical risks and solving them. She used exposed plates, and matting, to create many of her settings.

Focusing on commercial portrait photography, she suggested upon her retirement in 1912 that she had photographed almost everyone who had passed through Victoria. Hannah's work in both landscape and portrait photography has made an important contribution to the documentation of British Columbia history.

A self-portrait, with Hannah
bent over a punt in Beacon Hill Park
Detail of H-00276

 

She died in 1918 in Victoria, British Columbia and was buried in the Ross Bay Cemetery.






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