Photography: 98for98 The century in photographs: today 1927

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The Independent and the Hulton Getty Picture Collection arrive at an image from the year 1927.

Contrary to the usual association of stilts with circus fun, this shows workers in a Kent hop field where the work was hard, albeit carried out imaginatively. Stilts were used to set up the support frames for hop plants, which could grow as high as 8 metres in a growing season, and needed to be sustained by poles or trellises.

The times offered more chances to dig for potatoes than to be a couch potato, but indoor attractions were multiplying. In January Fox Pictures demonstrated the "Movietone", which synchronised sound with motion pictures. Charlie Chaplin, doyen of the silent, dismissed them as a fad. But the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, had its star, Al Jolson, give a better assessment when he said the world "ain't heard nothin' yet".

Bedroom antics were in the public arena, courtesy of Mae West, who was imprisoned for indecent behaviour in her production of Sex on Broadway. She had had made the mistake of increasing the lewdness of the show after it had been checked by police.

Civil war in China, and the severance of diplomatic relations between the British and Russian governments after accusations of espionage, raised questions about the ability of the League of Nations to maintain international peace. Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd prophesied that post-war agreements would continue to cause trouble, and that there would be another war within 20 years.

'Multiple Images', an exhibition of work by Ianthe Ruthven, is at Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax HX3 5AX (01422 250 250), until 1 March For details of Photo 98's other national events and exhibitions, call 01484 559888, or e-mail www. photo98.com

Jennifer Rodger

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