A History of the Smethwick International Exhibition
2020 & 2021
A unique period in the clubs history, (and every other club) the global Covid Pandemic changed the face of Club Photography and stretched many clubs to the limit. After the initial shock, Smethwick continued its club meetings with the technology of ‘Zoom’ and indeed the attendance increased over normal club meetings.
Equally important to us was to maintain the delivery of a first class International exhibition which we managed to do with PDI only entries and remote judging and presentation. We thank all the submission for sticking with us during this difficult Time.
We are so pleased to get back to normal for our 47th Exhibition during this the Centenary year of Smethwick Photographic Society.
Begun in 1975 at the suggestion of member Ian Platt, the exhibition started out as an international colour slide exhibition with one open class. The first Smethwick Colour International was judged in November 1975 and was shown to the public in January 1976. This is a pattern that continues right up to this day. Following the success of the first International, a Colour Print section was added for the second exhibition.
Right from its beginning, the exhibition gained the Patronage of the PSA, with FIAP Patronage having to wait until the 5th exhibition, when the PAGB decided to become a member of FIAP.
The first five exhibitions were held at the Chance Technical College in Smethwick, but following the Societies move to a new much larger HQ in Smethwick, the Sixth exhibition was held in its own building.
The seventh exhibition saw the introduction of a Nature Colour Slide section which proved to be well supported.
As entries continued to grow the Eighth exhibition saw the introduction of colour reproductions in the catalogue.
As the exhibition continued to grow in stature a Photo Travel section was introduced for the twelfth exhibition, but all section remained colour only.
New exhibition space
In 1999 Smethwick PS suffered a major setback with a major roof collapse at its HQ. Entries to the 24th exhibition were already arriving, so a temporary exhibition space had to be found at a nearby church.
After an intensive search, an old school building was found in nearby Oldbury and funds were raised to purchase it. Members set out to renovate it in time for the 25th exhibition. To mark its official opening, the Colour International introduced two new sections – Colour Nature prints and Monochrome prints with the exhibition being re-named the Smethwick International.
Inclusion of Digital Images and growth
For the 31st exhibition in 2006 it was decided to introduce a digital imaging section, which attracted just under 1000 entries. This took the exhibition up to seven sections, but as FIAP restricted exhibitions to only six sections, it was decided that the Travel section would be a stand-alone section with only PSA approval and its own catalogue.
The 32nd exhibition saw the colour slide and digital sections combined into ‘Projected Image sections. Print entries continued to rise, but by the 33rd exhibition in 2008, colour slide entries were in rapid decline. A decision was made to discontinue colour slide entries and introduce the 3 new digital sections Open, Nature and Photo Travel as these would complement the three print sections. Our first on-line entry system was also introduced.
The 36th Exhibition in 2011 saw the introduction of a larger catalogue giving more space for reproductions of award and accepted images. This new size lasted for three exhibitions until the 39th exhibition catalogue grew to the A4 82-page catalogue that we see in the current exhibitions. The 39th exhibition was also significant in that specially designed rectangular SPS medals were introduced to complement the growing number of PSA, FIAP GPU and PAGB medals that the exhibition continues to award.
It is pleasing to note that the exhibition has many loyal followers, both entrants and visitors. Long may it continue.
Roger Parry, ARPS, MPAGB, EFIAP, ESFIAP, HonPAGB