Derby Anon is...

An artist residency project responding to the glass plate negatives in the W W Winter Photography Ltd (of Derby) archive. Funded by the Arts Council and Derby City Council, Debbie Adele Cooper is working with glass negatives in the W W Winter archive and making new work in response to these stunning but unknown Derby portraits.

We live in a culture where data is obsessively recorded, when people see unknown portraits they yearn to know who the portrait sitters were... but what happens if we leave that behind and just explore the anonymous image? The history of the process, the beauty of the image, the story of that glass photograph as an object. This project aims to pair anonymous portrait sitters through time, exploring their relationship with the original sitter and their connection to the city. Over the coming months Debbie is looking for volunteers with a Derby connection (live, work, visit) who look anything vaguely like the original portraits; each volunteer will be paired with a portrait of Derby's past, making a photographic record of Derby then and now.

Each volunteer will be photographed in the same room, against the same back drop, using the same historic process of dry plate photography on glass negatives.

To take part have a look at the photographs in the gallery of images from W W Winter archive  and find out more.

There will be talks and events throughout the process, type in your email in the form to be kept up to date with the project and archiving at W W Winter Photographers. While in residence at Winter's Debbie has written a Heritage Lottery Bid to preserve the archive and open it up to the public, details of the announcement will follow here.

Keep up to date with the project via the blog

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Artist Biography

Debbie Adele Cooper; photographic and visual artist, Digital Artist Training Curator at QUAD. Debbie has studied and worked in photography, digital media, textiles and glass, and graduated from Fine Art BA (Hons) at Derby University in 2006.

Debbie Adele Cooper's work is inspired by everyday experiences and her interest in sociology and anthropology, while keenly routed in technology and process. This project bridges those inspirations and influences; working from photographs in W. W. Winter portraiture archive, Debbie aims to recreate original images using the photographic processes and technology of that time, paring Derby residents and visitors with a portrait from the past, to question participants relationships with their city's past, while exploring vintage atheistic qualities and the impact of these and the process on her own aesthetic.

This project will be exhibited at FORMAT International Photography Festival 2015, if you would take part in the project please visit this page for more information, and if you would like to keep up to date with the project please enter your email address here.

Debbie has previously shown work at Whitechapel Gallery, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, Nexus Manchester, FORMAT13. She is currently working with TATE Britain on digital photography curation project, and is project manager for Past Lives Project, a touring cine film art, music and archive development project.

W. W. Winter Biography

Walter William Winter opened his Derby photographic studio in 1867 and his successors are still working in the same studios, nearly fifteen decades later making it the longest established photography business in the UK.

During this time Winter's have won many prestigious photography awards, been at the forefront of photographic developments, photographing royalty and high society while also photographing and documenting the citizens and streets of Derby. The history of W. W. Winter's is the history of photography. Their large archive encapsulates the changing history and peoples of Derby, and is of local, national and international importance, W. W. Winters have thousands of photographs, glass, film and digital in their collection, (mostly unarchived) the history of Winter's is the history of Derby and of photography. 

For the first time they are allowing an artist to have access to their archives to help open these important archives to the public and to in invite an artistic response to their work. Through her time as artist in residence Debbie Adele Cooper has successfully raised funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund to start the archiving and preservation process the collection.

W. W. Winter's still photograph the public everyday in their original studio and out on location, if you would like to book Winter's for photographic work please contact them via: or call 01332 345224 please note the archive is not yet open to the public on a regular basis.

And if you would like to keep in touch with this project and archival work please fill in your details via the contact page, or using the email below