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History of optics explored at Cubitts exhibition

Retrospective: London, spectacles and half a millennia will run for three months at St James’ Market Pavilion

Cubitts eyewear

London-based independent Cubitts will host an exhibition exploring six centuries of optical history this month.

Opening on 15 November, Retrospective: London, spectacles and half a millennia is a free event that will run for three months at St James’ Market Pavilion in London.

The exhibition will follow the story of optics in London starting from the first pair of spectacles found in Trig Lane that are almost 600 years old through to the ‘golden age’ in the 1930s.

It will track the last century, including the establishment of the NHS and marking the industry’s growth, decline and renewal. Innovations and experimentation will feature as the exhibition explores the future of optics.

Frames worn by famous faces including Audrey Hepburn, Sir Michael Caine and John Lennon will be on display, as well as artefacts from the city’s optical history.

In celebration of six centuries of spectacles in London, Cubitts has created a unique frame that is made from materials ‘mudlarked’ from the banks of the River Thames, including Tudor hair pins and WWII bullets and shells.

Contributors include Oliver Goldsmith, Cutler and Gross, and the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers.