Swaps: David Hurn on Photography - Part 2

Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection runs from 30 September 2017 to 15 April 2018. This exhibition celebrates the major gift of photographs from David Hurn’s private collection and marks the opening of Amgueddfa Cymru’s first gallery dedicated to photography. Here are some short films from the exhibition:

"I had this very large flat in London, in Bayswater, so what actually happened was when people used to come to England from abroad they would all end up on my floor, so much so that I had a big front room that actually had four mattresses on the floor. But anyway, basically what happened was Josef Koudelka, who’s Czech, after the Czech uprising was having potential problems in Czechoslovakia, and Elliott Erwitt primarily, who was then the president of Magnum, discovered a way of getting Josef out of Czechoslovakia by giving him some award from Magnum to come and take pictures."

"There was this ring at the front doorbell, it was Elliott who I knew was coming with this photographer who I didn’t know very much about who was Josef Koudelka. So Elliott said ‘Look, Josef here, can he use your darkroom and stay with you while he develops his film. So I said, ‘Yes of course, how many rolls do you have?’ My memory is he said 800!"

"So he stayed in the flat… who knows, we said 8 years or so, it was an awful long time and in the end we were so close that I used to introduce him as my brother and he did the same. I love him dearly and he’s just the most perfect example, because I’ve never known anybody that works so hard, I’ve never known anyone that’s so involved with photography, that’s so meticulous about what he does."

"Tish was a puzzle; she was a student who came in, she had the shortest interview, so short I remember it, of any person that we ever interviewed coming into Newport. I never used to look at portfolios; I wasn’t that interested in whether people thought they could shoot pictures. I was interested in finding people that had passions about things, they could be a botanist or an architect."

"Anyway, Tish came in and I remember asking her what did she want to do and she said something like ‘I want to photograph policemen kicking kids’ or something. That’s all she said, and I said “fine, we’ll teach you how to photograph that”."

"I knew I was onto a winner because she talked about her background just in that little sentence with so much passion and so much obvious knowledge etc. etc. She was a wonderful photographer. I mean this picture is extraordinary. Such a loving picture of two people who are living on the streets. It has such intimacy and you can’t take that sort of picture unless you really, really are involved with the people involved."

"This particular picture by Sergio Larrain is kind of important for me, because it, in a way gave me permission to do certain things. I was in Trafalgar Square photographing the pigeons and there in Trafalgar Square was another photographer photographing the pigeons who turned out to be Sergio Larrain."

"We became friends, and Sergio looked at my pictures and he said to me that competing in this world of current affairs was really not me at my best, and that I was at my best doing much more personal kinds of things. That was extraordinary for me because I suddenly realised that here was a photographer who took pictures that I really loved saying to me “it’s ok to go and do what you really love doing”. Now, it happened that by luck, the colour supplements started in the 1960s, and that was great for me because there was always a little slot in those colour supplements for that mundane type of story, which meant that the only person that was left to fill in this slot of the mundane was me! So I had, in many ways, a free hand, and he is a very, very important person in my life."

Banner photograph by Tish Murtha.

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