Land of Make Believe
A central aspect of the Hyman Collection's holidings of British Art addresses masquerade, performance, costume, ritual, parade. There is a strong thread of fantasy and a variety of works that respond to eccentricity, constructions of identity, and the heritage industry. From the drama of the street to more internal monologues, these mini fictions question the authenticity of what is shown.
Modern Nature. Photographs from the Hyman Collection
Exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield, 2018-2019.
Drawn from the collection of Claire and James Hyman, which comprises more than 3,000 photographs ranging from conceptual compositions to documentary-style works, Modern Nature included around 60 photographs taken since the end of the Second World War, through the beginnings of de-industrialisation to the present day. It explored the merging of urban and rural landscapes, the rapid expansion of cities and the increasingly intrusive management of the countryside. Rather than present a Romantic dichotomy between the rural and the urban, the exhibition presented a more contemporary sensibility that is frequently situated in the edgelands, the often scruffy margins, in which town blurs with countryside.
Sign of the Times. Word and Image in British Photography
Photographs in the Hyman Collection collection allow one to explore the use of word and image in British Photogtraphy and allow one to chart a number of strategies by which text is used to provide a commentary on what is shown or to deepen its meaning. At its most pobvious text may indicate a time or place but frequently it introduces an additional dimension whether it be humour, social commentary, political engagement or semiotic concerns. Initially embedded within the picture, by the 1970s text was increasingly used to accompany the image, often screenprinted beneath it, to direct the viewer's response to what is shown in ways that may be humorous but are often subversive, ironic, satirical or polemical.
The Hyman Collection of British Photography includes many works which address the countryside including both landscapes and depictions of village life. These include depictions of the land as in Fay Godwin's pastoral idylls, John Blakemore and Thomas Cooper's metaphoric treatment of nature, John Davies's exploration of industry, Jem Southam's subtle depiction of man-made interventions, and Keith Arnatt's subversive views of areas of outstanding natural beauty. The collection also includes pictures of village life that focus on people and pastimes. Villages are shown to be sites of ritual, curiosity and strange events. These include Tony Ray Jones's eye for quirks and foibles, Homer Sykes's depiction of folk pastimes, bonfire night and other communal events in Anna Fox's Hamphsire village, Paul Reas's witty response to heritage tourism and Colin Jones's photograph of the Queen at Sandringham.
Beside the Seaside
As an Island Nation the coast and beach are highly charged culural and national symbols. British photographers have responded to the subjeect in a variety of ways. Bill Brandt provides the emblematic image of someone on a seaside holiday. Keith Vaughan provides pictures of innocence just moments before the outbreak of war. Bert Hardy chronicles life on a fishing trawler at sea. Fay Godwin celebfrates its rugged beauty. Mark Power's brililantly presents the locations listed in the celebrated BBC radio broadcasts of The Shipping Forecast. Meanwhile, for other photographers the beach becomes the setting for explorations of class and society as in the works of Tony Ray Jones, Marketa Luskacova, Colin Jones, Martin Parr, Anna Fox, The Caravan Gallery and Simon Roberts.
The Hyman Collection of British Photography has a number of works which take as their setting the streets of Britain. At times what is captured is an unguarded moment but often the photographer explores the performative element of what is shown and foregrounds the relationship between the camera and the subject.
A central thread of the Hyman Collection is intimacy. Pictures of children are a leitmotif since the earliest days of photography and the collection includes a range of responses to childhood with a particular emphasis on works in which there is an evident closeness or familiairty between photographer and subject. The theme runs through the British photography in the Hyman Collection from Bill Brandt to the present.