'Adventures in twin time travel'

National Library of Scotland hosts first UK showing of photography exhibition

'In the footsteps of Isabella Bird: Adventures in twin time travel', an exhibition of photographs by Professor Kanasaka of Kyoto University, has opened at the National Library of Scotland. This is the first time the exhibition has been seen outside Japan.

Over the past 10 years Professor Kanasaka, a geographer, has retraced the footsteps of the intrepid 19th-century author and traveller Isabella Bird, taking contemporary photographs of remote regions in China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, USA, England, Ireland and Scotland.

One hundred of these images are displayed alongside a selection of the pioneering explorer's own photographs taken over a century ago.

Professor Kanasaka was inspired to undertake his 'adventure in twin time travel' when, in 1974, he read the Japanese edition of Bird's book 'Unbeaten Tracks in Japan'. This publication had significance to Professor Kanasaka's own research and study and he has translated Isabella Bird's The Yangtze Valley and Beyond into Japanese.

He says; 'To understand Isabella's travel writings, and especially to translate 'The Yangtze Valley and Beyond to Japanese', it is indispensable to visit the areas and places she visited. To look at the change or the continuation of the landscape is very interesting and exciting, and the use of geographical research photographs is important.'

Isabella Bird was a remarkable woman; born in Yorkshire on 15 October 1831 she became a well-known figure in 19th-century society as a result of her travels and travel writing. In 1892 she became the first woman to be elected into the Royal Geographical Society.

Isabella Bird had numerous connections with Scotland, on occasion she would stay with her sister Henrietta in Tobermory, Mull and she married an Edinburgh doctor, John Bird, in 1880. She died on 7 October 1904 in Edinburgh and is buried in the capital's Dean Cemetery.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 27 November in the National Library of Scotland's George IV Bridge building. Entry is free.

7 November 2005

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