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.
As well as exploring the rural life of the village and countryside, many British photographers have explored nature and addressed the natural environment. At times these depictions are mundane, and at other times nostalgic, romanticised, political and personal.
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 includes works from England, Nothern Ireland, Scotland and Wales that trace the lives of communities in rural and urban parts of Britain. In addition the collection includes a strong holding of work which focuses on London and its various regions and explores class and society, from homes in Belgravia to the gypsy community by the Westway Roundabout and from the City of London to the Inner City.
A Night in London
Inspired by the lead provided by Bill Brandt's seminal book, A Night in London, which was published eighty years ago this year, The Hyman Collection presents works that reflect aspects of the nocturnal life of London.
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.
Queen and Country
The Hyman Collection includes many works which present folk customs, constructions of national identity and that address forms of patriotism and nationalism. At their centre is the flag and references to royalty, prime ministers and the establishment.