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.