Swaps: David Hurn on Photography - Part 3

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 the final collection of short films from the exhibition:

"This is a picture by Philip Jones Griffiths. Philip is a Welshman, he’s a Welsh speaking Welshman from North Wales. From an educational point of view I find him another one of the people who was self trained as a photographer. I find it intriguing how most of the people that I really admire in photography, are self trained.

To me, it’s one of the most moving pictures I’ve ever seen. It’s usually on my wall, it’s on the stairs and you’re confronted by it if you’re going up to the toilet. Not infrequently, people come down with bleary, teary eyes and I think that’s, in a way, what a picture should do. I think that’s what photography does terribly well. You don’t need to have an explanation. I think the general public know enough about what goes on in the world of wars and thing like that, so it’s not that important to anyone going up there whether it’s Vietnam, or Biafra or whatever. It tells you something about the human condition which we all instinctively know enough about to get an emotional impact from the picture. And I just think it’s a strong a picture as I’ve ever seen by anybody. A truly remarkable person, and greatly, greatly missed."

"I saw the work of this young lady, I didn’t know her or anything about her, at a small gallery in Abertillery and it reeked of quality. There was what I call authorship. This looked to me, potentially, a cloass photographer. Later she had a little brochure made which again has that same thing. It kind of has a feeling of togetherness about it, you sense that the person understands what they’re photographing.

This kind of photography is very in at the moment, a certain look of person and a certain kind of portraiture. All I can say is that she does it much better than a lot of other people around. It’s my personal opinion. And that’s why I asked her if I could swap a couple of prints with her. I think she already is a pretty classy photographer and I suspect in 50 years’ time she will still be shooting pictures."

"And then the other photographer who I met at that time was Bruce Davidson who was… I did travel around quite a lot with him and particularly when he was in London I introduced him and got him into a lot of ‘slightly undergroundy’ places he might have struggled to get to. This particular picture is an extraordinary picture, from a set of pictures he did on a gang in New York. Incredible set of pictures.

Bruce was lovely, we used to go round in one of the first little Mini’s and I remember he used to eat a staggering amount of bananas. For some reason we lived off bananas. He is a wonderful photographer and a wonderful person. He did extraordinary work on the Selma marches and things like that. Great social conscience and decent human being. He had an incredible effect on me and gave me a lot of prints. This was at the time when there weren’t galleries, a print was something that cost you 50p to have made. Somebody said “oh, I’d like that”, which people mainly didn’t, and he’d say “fine”, you know.

I think in the collection there are probably about eight or nine Bruce Davidson pictures and I think every one of them is so beautiful. I would have loved to have taken this picture, it’s a great picture. "

"John Davies was living in South Wales, he is an extraordinarily good landscape photographer of a very, very pure documentary nature. They’re very straight pictures of the landscape, there’s obviously no tricks, they’re just very much scene pictures.

I basically swapped a mass of pictures, probably over twenty years, in that we swapped Christmas cards. We both made handmade Christmas cards – they’re actual prints that are made, and in my case, every year I make fifty of them and they go out as a limited edition. I’m not quite sure what his edition is, but he does the same. There was no reason to try and get a bigger print because I just think they are so beautiful this size. They are just so delicate and lovely."

Banner photograph by Clémentine Schneidermann.

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