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By David Hurn on

David Hurn and fellow Magnum photographers visit our collections centre

Magnum Photographer David Hurn writes about his recent visit to our archives.

I was recently in Bradford for the opening of the Open for Business exhibition and I was offered a guided tour around the Museum collection.

David Hurn and Jonas Bendiksen in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard
David Hurn and Jonas Bendiksen in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard

Perhaps for me most interesting was the Daily Herald Archive. The Daily Herald was a British daily newspaper, published in London from 1912 to 1964, and the archive is very important because it’s one of—maybe the only—complete newspaper archive surviving.

Mark Power in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard
Mark Power in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard

It has added importance because it had a staff of wonderful photographers. Newspaper photographers do not normally work on in-depth stories but rather deal with many news breaks a day, so archives are a true visual history.

A brief perusal of the collection showed really interesting pictures taken by James Jarché, the Saidman brothers, George Roper, Bishop Marshall, Leslie Cardew, Edward Malindine, and Terry Fincher among others, each of whom would merit detailed research.

Peter Marlow and David Hurn in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard
Peter Marlow and David Hurn in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard

Luckily the collection has been kept as it was originally housed, in cabinets and files in a hierarchical system. For people, each person has a separate file; when the file gets large it then merits a box of its own; when they die, a new box is created; and each level graduates to a new shelf. I pray that they don’t ever break it up for ‘archival reasons’.

In a separate location I was able to touch (with gloves on) Fox Talbot’s original cameras—some surprisingly crudely made—is it imagination or does some sense of aura filter through?

Jonas Bendiksen, Stuart Franklin, Peter Marlow and Fiona Rogers (Magnum) in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard
Jonas Bendiksen, Stuart Franklin, Peter Marlow and Fiona Rogers (Magnum) in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard

I enjoyed realising the size of the cameras that Fenton, Bedford, Frith would have used… please don’t complain that your camera is too heavy.

No-one interested in photography should miss visiting, it’s a rewarding day out. By the way, very close by is the Impressions Gallery—once of York—also very much worth visiting.

Fiona Rogers (Magnum), Jonas Bendiksen, David Hurn (seated), Peter Marlow and Mark Power in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard
Fiona Rogers (Magnum), Jonas Bendiksen, David Hurn (seated), Peter Marlow and Mark Power in Insight: Collections and Research Centre © Murray Ballard

Written by Magnum Photographer David Hurn.

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