Adopt a Slide - 19th Century Glass Eyeballs

I first saw adopt a slide on twitter earlier this year. It is the slide collection of the Visual Resources Centre (VRC) at Manchester School of Art. I haven't been able to visit the department and look at the collection for myself yet but I spotted slide number DS11-003 on twitter and knew that was the slide for me.

I love slides and have over 500 or so of my own of various different things, an old mill in Leigh that's since been demolished, local housing estates and fishing villages in Wales. I started taking pictures on slide film in college and it produces stills of a moment in time in such vivid colour. A small portrait that held up to the light can show you the world from last week or 60 years ago.

Adopt a Slide is a really important project and incredibly interesting even more-so as the image library is currently under threat from closure. Analogue methods of cataloguing aren't seen as important as they were when things can be so easily digitised and put online. I disagree and there is a need for these pieces of history to be saved and if I had a big warehouse somewhere they could all live in there nice for all to see forever.

The slide I chose to adopt is 19th Century Glass Eyeballs.

'I was born with congenital cataract in my right eye. Everything I see out of that eye is blurred and foggy, a bit like when you put eye ointment in but permanently. My left eye is my good eye and even though I am now long sighted in it and it has to work twice as hard to see, to have one working eye is good enough for me.

I chose photography as my profession and I never struggled with seeing until about five years ago when my eyes became significantly worse. I have worn glasses since I was four and then decided in my teenage wisdom I wouldn't be wearing them any more. I was finally told off at age 25 by the ophthalmologist and told to wear my super strength glasses all the time and to and start and take care of my eyes as you only get the two you have.

I remember sitting in the eye clinic waiting room after having many tests and there was an older gentleman sat opposite me, smartly dressed in a green suit. He was reading the paper and then he got called in and asked to take out his eye! I haven’t got a very strong stomach and anything blood or eyeball based makes me feel a bit queasy and sometimes I faint.  

I however became fascinated with this notion of the smart old man in his green suit reading the paper having just the one eye like me but also his was far superior as it was made of glass. I wanted to ask him how it felt, what had happened to his eye before the new eye? Did you have a colour choice? I controlled my thoughts as I felt it would have been incredibly rude to ask him such things. I sat back in my chair and said to myself ‘Fancy that, a glass eye’

 I really like this slide as it’s from a time when prosthesis where in their early stages and I like the big selection altogether in their velvet lined compartments. My interest in glass eyes hasn't gone unnoticed and it’s not something that you can bring up in conversation on a visit to the shops but to have adopted this slide is very special and my one seeing eye likes it very much.'

 You can adopt a slide by visiting and follow the instructions.