British photographic history

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The recent reports the RPS collection is returning to London is good news. However, I will need to rewrite my recent rant in my forthcoming book on Lyddell Sawyer. Many years ago, befor the internet, I wrote a letter enquiring if there were any Sawyers in the collection, the reply there weren't any. Thirty years later I discovered there were several important images by him. Although at Bradford they were unaware of it.

So three cheers for the V&A at last realizing that photography is very important, until the last 10 or 15 years ago they seemed disinterest. They should have never allowed the RPS collection to go to Bradford in the first place. We would also have the Gernsheim collection here as well, which went to Texas, where incidentally they do a great job of making it available to the world.

Although I love the North of England it was not the right place for such an important archive. So lets hope the V&A will get proper funding to do a good job.

Regards Geoff Lowe

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'The Times' and Guardian newspapers today (Monday 7 March) published a letter from many eminent photographers and others who want to try and stop the transfer of the RPS collections from Bradford to London. There will be differing opinions about this.

The right place surely is where the public have access to see and find out more about these collections. Where they can carry out research and where the staff are knowledgeable about what is in the collection. We are living in the 21st century, the right place in my view is the Internet. The original photographs can then be kept safe. The staff can be employed responding to enquiries and building a proper database which the public can get access to. 

I once travelled down to the V & A and there were only a handful of photographs on display. I have visited Bradford many times and enjoyed every visit. I have also had the opportunity to visit behind the scenes at Bradford and that was a fascinating experience.

Without the right funding in place we will be in a worse place than we are now. Surely is not beyond us to gather funds to make this happen and make these collections available for all to see irrespective of their geographical location.

Best Regards

Steve Lightfoot

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