Gray’s curation of the exhibition Capturing Colour: Film, Invention and Wonder for Brighton Museum & Art Gallery was his largest public project between 2008-2013. His research focused on the emergence of ‘colour’ in moving images from the 1890s to the digital present, with particular emphasis on hand-colouring, stencilling and additive processes at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the later developments of three-strip Technicolor and Kodachrome – the first true colour film.
This output evolved from Gray’s long involvement with the study of the history of early film production and consumption in Britain from 1895–1914. Brighton pioneer film-makers George Albert Smith and James Williamson both made distinctive contributions to the development of colour and coloured film, especially Smith as he developed the colour additive system known as Kinemacolor. It was the first commercially successful colour motion picture process, heralded as a genuine technological triumph of the Edwardian era.
This was the first public exhibition devoted to this aspect of British cinema and represented Gray’s sustained commitment to unearthing this history and bringing it to the public. Running from December 2010 to March 2011, it attracted over 50,000 visitors. The objects (e.g. cameras and projectors, lantern slides, posters, films) were drawn from the collections of the Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums, Screen Archive South East, the British Film Institute and the National Media Museum. A distinctive feature of the exhibition was the digital recreation of three Kinemacolor films from black and white 35mm film prints. The project was made possible by funding from the AHRC (£53,000) and its Knowledge Transfer Fellowship scheme, the UK Film Council (£20,000) and Renaissance (£28,000).
‘Capturing Colour illuminates the traces of the brush-on-celluloid late 19th century in the point-and-click early 21st’ (Henry K. Miller, The Guardian, 2 March 2011).