British photographic history

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The Hyman Collection. Annual Update. 02. Spring 2017

Two years ago, in Spring 2015, we launched www.britishphotography.org to showcase our private collection of British photographs and to use the collection as an educational resource.

Since our first annual update in Spring 2016, we have continued to acquire pictures by photographers not previously in the collection. These include Shirley Baker, The Caravan Gallery, Juno Calypso, Maisie Cousins, Michael Kenna, Peter Mitchell, Paddy Summerfield and Gillian Wearing. We have also increased our existing collections of vintage photographs by Cecil Beaton, John Blakemore, Jane Bown, Bill Brandt, Christina Broom, Mat Collishaw, Thomas Joshua Cooper, John Davies, Anna Fox, Fay Godwin, Bert Hardy, Paul Hill, Susan Hiller, E.O. Hoppé, Colin Jones, Dafydd Jones, Neil Libbert, Roger Mayne, Raymond Moore, Graham Smith, Wolfgang Suschitzky and Homer Sykes.

The collection includes an equal number of pictures by male and female photographers. Where possible we continue to acquire substantial bodies of work and we are delighted to have recently made one of our most significant acquisitions: an important group of twenty seven vintage photographs from the Estate of Bill Brandt which, added to our existing works by Brandt, makes the collection one of the most significant in private hands.

We have also acquired a series of eighteen vintage photographs by Bert Hardy from his Picture Post years; over thirty vintage prints from the 1940s and 1950s by Wolfgang Suschitzky; a wide-ranging group of vintage exhibition prints of Manchester and Salford from the Estate of Shirley Baker; a moving group of pictures by Paddy Summerfield; twenty six photographs by a pioneer of colour photography, Peter Mitchell; thirty more works by Dafydd Jones depicting teenage parties in the 1980s; and seventy works by The Caravan Gallery that provide an overview of their work over the last fifteen years.

We have also continued the process of making the collection more accessible by increasing our online content and we have added hundreds more works to the website along with more detailed cataloguing, including a growing number of essays on bodies of work and on individual pictures. We have also lent pictures from the collection to several different museum shows, among them Creating the Countryside: 1600-2017, Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, 2017 (works by Anna Fox, Paul Hill, Paul Reas, Jo Spence and Homer Sykes); Street View: photographs of Urban Life, Graves Gallery, Sheffield Museum, 2016-17( Colin Jones, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen and Paul Reas); Heath at 100: A Life in Cartoons (Arundells, Salisbury, 2016-17 (Spitting Image puppet of Prime Minister, Edward Heath); View Ireland, Landskrona Museum, Sweden/Foto View, Ireland 2016 (Paul Seawright Sectarian Murders). We also have a large number of pictures promised to future museum shows in the United Kingdom, Europe and America.

When we sent out our first newsletter last April we described the dire situation for institutions in the United Kingdom: Birmingham Library had closed its inspiring photography department; The National Media Museum in Bradford had announced the end of its commitment to photography; the fate of the Media Space at the Science Museum was uncertain; and Tate Britain remains without a curator of British Photography. However, since then there have been some significant reasons for optimism. Despite funding issues wonderful exhibitions and festivals continue to be staged across the country. The transfer of the Royal Photographic Society’s holdings from the Media Museum to the Victoria and Albert Museum, although enormously controversial, has led the V&A to raise its game with plans for a vastly expanded role for photography with enlarged exhibition spaces and a new study centre. Meanwhile, the advent of Photo London at Somerset House, as a vibrant and energetic celebration of photography, has been a game-changer. Now in its third year, it has helped put London on the map alongside Paris and New York. It is hoped that these initiatives flourish and that they will encourage others to follow their lead.

More information on the Hyman Collection can be found at: www.britishphotography.org

Claire and James Hyman

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