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Daniel Meadows. National Portraits: Now and Then (1995-2000)

Daniel Meadows. National Portraits: Now and Then (1995-2000)

The best known of Daniel Meadows' projects is the Free Photographic Omnibus, the 10,000 mile journey he took around England for 14 months in 1973-74 travelling in a double-decker bus which he'd converted into his home, gallery and darkroom, and from which he ran free portrait sessions in towns and cities up and down the country.

At the time, the portraits Meadow's made on the bus and gave away were not considered anything special but, in 1997, a selection of them was gathered by the curator Val Williams and exhibited as National Portraits: Photographs from the 1970s by Daniel Meadows. The show and its catalogue created a lot of interest, Meadows' Bus Portraits being widely published and celebrated. So much so that, in 2007, forty-one pictures from the series were included in Tate Britain's extensive historical review of the history of British photography How We Are: Photographing Britain from the 1840s to the Present.

Back in the 1990s, though, when the National Portraits exhibition was getting underway, Meadows became curious about what had happened in the lives of those depicted in his pictures. So he decided to revisit the project, track down as many of the people as possible, interview them and take their pictures again. For his research he chose three different towns and cities: Barrow-in-Furness, Hartlepool and Southampton. He used feature articles in local newspapers to winkle people out and, slowly his National Portraits: Now and Then project grew into a fresh body of work giving the original 'Bus project' a whole new dimension. His 2001 book The Bus: The Free Photographic Omnibus 1973-2001 (Harvill) tells the story, as does the radio documentary he made with Alan Dein, Living Like This (BBC, 1996).

The Hyman Collection is grateful to Daniel Meadows for his assistance in cataloguing these pictures.

Daniel Meadows / British Photography / The Hyman Collection

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