Fishermen & Kings

Discover the fascinating story of pioneering 20th century photographer Olive Edis, in two galleries dedicated to the life and work of this incredible Norfolk woman.

Olive Edis was one of the most important photographers of the early 20th century. At the height of her career she photographed the full spectrum of British society, from local north Norfolk fishermen and their families to prime ministers, royalty, scientists and artists. She was an exceptional portrait artist, a pioneer of new technologies, a successful business owner, and the first British woman to be appointed as an official war photographer.

Fishermen & Kings provides a permanent tribute to this fine artist, and a rich resource for the public who want to explore her work in more depth. These galleries give an overview of Edis’ life, work and photographic techniques. See original prints alongside enlarged reproductions, digital slideshows and lightboxes, and listen to extracts from Edis’ war journal.

Cromer Museum is a fitting location for the world’s first centre dedicated to Edis’ work, given her long association with this part of Norfolk. Edis died in 1955, leaving the contents of her studio to her assistant Cyril Nunn who cared for the collection until it was acquired by Cromer Museum in 2008. It is now the largest collection of her work in the world.

In the 60 years following her death Edis was largely forgotten, and her contribution to British photography sadly overlooked. The Olive Edis Project at Cromer Museum has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to share her work with a wider audience and give her inspirational story the recognition it deserves.

A fully illustrated book Fishermen & Kings: The Photography of Olive Edis by Alistair Murphy and Elizabeth Elmore, includes a biography and 140 full-colour images, including a selection of Edis’ war photographs. It is available from the gift shop at Cromer Museum for £9.99 and you can order a copy by contacting Maria Wong, Retail Manager maria.wong@norfolk.gov.uk or by phoning Norfolk Museums on 01603 495897.