The Hyman Collection. Annual Newsletter 2020

Seasons Greetings! We wish you a happy holiday and send all good wishes for 2021.

Welcome to our 2020 newsletter.

This year we have tried to do what we can to help, both personally and professionally. Claire was redeployed to work in ICU with patients with Covid-19 and James organised charity fundraisers. The Hyman Collection also sought to increase its charitable and community activities. 

We have spent much of this year setting up a new charitable foundation to support photography in Britain. The Hyman Foundation (Charity Commission No. 1190955) aims to promote and support photography in Britain in all its diversity.

The Hyman Foundation aims to facilitate the work of contemporary artists, fund research and scholarship, and address issues of legacy and the preservation of archives. To serve these objectives, we plan to create a series of funded grants and projects. We aim to

- Provide grants with a focus on young artists and women working in photography as well as research grants for art historical scholarship
- Mentor young and mid-career artists to advise on their careers, consider legacy issues, and encourage best practice for archiving their work.
- Work with artists in later stages of their career to help preserve, archive and digitize photographic work for future heritage.
- Establish and maintain an archive, collection and library of historical and contemporary photographs.
- Form partnerships with other arts organizations, including Universities, to provide a hub for British photography past, present and future.

We are very grateful to our Trustees, Advisory Board and all those who have helped during the course of this year for their enthusiasm, advice and support. We will be making more detailed announcements about the Foundation's activities in the new year.

Health and Wellbeing
Last year we were pleased to be involved with two projects that addressed mental and physical health. We commissioned Heather Agyepong to produce a major new body of work, Wish You Were Here, which was premiered in early 2020, and also co-curated with Jim Mortram a special limited edition boxed set of works from his devastatingly powerful series of photographs and testimony, Small Town Inertia. Little did we expect that 2020 would be so challenging. During the year we have organised and supported several fundraising initiatives. Back in March we organised and donated works to one of the first fundraising sales for the NHS from which all profits went to the NHS and more recently we have organised a fundraising sale to raise money for the Trussell Trust. Available works are here. We have also raised money for Mind, the mental health charity and for Black Minds Matter. For much of the year we have also worked on two shows for the Arnolfini in Bristol which address health and wellbeing. 
Given the enormous disruption caused by the pandemic, we were aware that public galleries might be forced to postpone or cancel exhibitions. To help, we have offered to curate a selection of exhibitions from works in the collection that are available for museums to borrow. These exhibitions can be assembled at very short notice and are ready for immediate display. The exhibitions can vary in size and be adapted to suit a specific space. They can be ready to tour or tailored to a particular venue. We have never charged a fee for lending works to public institutions and these exhibitions are available for loan free of charge. We are grateful to Photoworks and ArtFund for their assistance in publicising this initiative. Please contact us for details.

We spent much of the year on two major exhibition for the Arnolfini in Bristol. Due to open in November, the exhibitions opened briefly in December and look like they will be imminently shut again. We are hugely disappointed that the public will not have a proper opportunity to see two exhibition that we are so passionate about but are looking at opportunities to tour the two shows to other public venues in Britain and internationally.

These are some of the exhibitions that we loaned to in 2020:

Bill Brandt - Henry Moore 
Hepworth, Wakefield and tour to Sainsbury Centre, Norfolk and Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, USA

We have loaned 17 vintage photographs by Bill Brandt to this exhibition which explores the parallel and intersecting paths of these two great artists of the 20th century. This major exhibition brings together over 200 works highlighting the relationships between sculpture, photography, drawing and collage revealed through Brandt and Moore's shared interests in the subjects and themes of labour, society, industry, the British landscape and the human body.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography
Barbican Gallery and tour to Gropius Bau, Berlin and Luma Foundation, Arles
We loaned Anna Fox's heartbreaking series My Mother's Cupboards and My Fathers Words. Through the medium of film and photography, this major exhibition considers how masculinity has been coded, performed, and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day. Examining depictions of masculinity from behind the lens, the Barbican brings together the work of over 50 international artists, photographers and filmmakers. In the wake of #MeToo the image of masculinity has come into sharper focus, with ideas of toxic and fragile masculinity permeating today's society. This exhibition charts the often complex and sometimes contradictory representations of masculinities, and how they have developed and evolved over time. Touching on themes including power, patriarchy, queer identity, female perceptions of men, hypermasculine stereotypes, tenderness and the family, the exhibition shows how central photography and film have been to the way masculinities are imagined and understood in contemporary culture.

A Different Mirror. Heather Agyepong, Alexis Hunter, Jo Spence & Maud Sulter
We were delighted to collaborate with The Maud Sulter Estate on a special exhibition for the Photo Oxford Festival 2020. Unfortunately, as a result of the panedemic the exhibition has had to be rescheduled. Details to follow.

Jo Spence. From Fairy Tales to Photo Therapy. Photographs from The Hyman Collection
Arnolfini, Bristol presents a major retrospective of over 100 works by photographer Jo Spence (1934 - 1992), drawn from The Hyman Collection, one of the most comprehensive collections of Spence's works in the world. Spence has been an integral figure within photographic discourse from the 1970s onwards. Throughout her diverse projects she is well known for her highly politicised approach to photography and the representation of her own struggles with cancer. From Fairy Tales to Photo Therapy focuses on the intersection between arts, health and wellbeing, celebrating Spence's work as a photo therapist in which she used photography as a medium to address personal trauma, reflecting on key moments in her past. Photo-therapy, especially the type of re-enactment therapy that is at the heart of Spence's practice, is essentially a collaborative process and the exhibition presents works made by Spence in collaboration with Terry Dennett, Rosy Martin, David Roberts, Dr. Tim Sheard and Valerie Walkerdine.

A Picture of Health. Women Photographers from the Hyman Collection 
Arnolfini, Bristol presents a timely exhibition as those throughout the world are united by the effects of the current global pandemic. The exhibition includes work by Heather Agyepong, Sonia Boyce, Eliza Hatch, Susan Hiller, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Anna Fox, Rosy Martin (in collaboration with Verity Welstead), Polly Penrose, Jo Spence, and Paloma Tendero. The exhibition was co-curated with creativeShift CIC and Fresh Arts, Bristol's leading organisations providing creative wellbeing activities to adults who are experiencing or are vulnerable to isolation and mental health challenges. A Picture of Health aims to de-stigmatise subjects around mental health and create an environment in which people can have open conversations about their wellbeing, whilst including the voices of local people with lived experiences of mental health.

In 2020 we supported the publication of a new edition of Anna Fox's celebrated miniature book My Mother's Cupboards and My Father's Words

It was created in 2000, for the Shoreditch Biennale, at a time when Anna Fox was inspired to make work 'close to home', challenging the notion of the documentary photographer as outsider. The book pairs words by her father - gruesome outbursts by a man with a rapidly debilitating disease towards the women in the house - with claustrophobic images of her mother's neatly organised cupboards. The result is one of Fox's most powerful and intimate bodies of work. The original self-published edition of the book has long been out of print. This second 'remastered' edition includes minor adjustments but remains faithful to the original design and has been produced in close collaboration with the artist. It is published to coincide with a renewed interest in the work (evidenced by exhibitions this year at the Barbican Centre, London, Gropius Bau, Berlin and SeMA, Seoul) and comes at a time when the realities of living closely with family members are in sharp focus. The book can be ordered from herepress. Ten percent of proceeds from the sale of this publication will be donated to Refuge.

We also partnered with RRB Photobooks to publisher two volumes on Jo Spence. 

Fairy Tales and Photography, or, Another look at Cinderella by Jo Spence, accompanied by Class Slippers with new essays that we commissioned from Frances Hatherley and Marina Warner. Fairy Tales and Photography, or, Another look at Cinderella, a facsimile of Jo Spence's ambitious BA thesis. Written in 1982 by Spence, a cultural worker and photographer, this landmark thesis aimed to untangle interconnected gender and class oppressions in historic fairy tales. Spence asks 'How do we take a story like Cinderella out of the archives, off the bookshelves, out of the retail stores and attempt to prise out its latent class content? Its political and social uses?' Class Slippers, the sister publication contextualises the work of Spence for a contemporary audience and provides new insights to the dissertation nearly 40 years since its creation. It is written by Dr Frances Hatherley, an archivist at the Jo Spence Memorial Library Archive at Birkbeck, University, with a preface by writer Marina Warner. 

In the past year The Hyman Collection has purchased over 200 works ranging from large-scale exhibition prints to small works made to raise money for various charities and as part of the #artistsupportpledge initiative. These acquisitions include works by Richard Billingham, Sonia Boyce, Bill Brandt, Lucy Bryant, Bloomberg and Chanarin, Julie Cockburn, Mat Collishaw, Willie Doherty, Anna Fox, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Gilbert and George, Douglas Gordon, Nigel Henderson, Damien Hirst, Nicky Hirst, Tom Hunter, Kurt Hutton, Dafydd Jones, Isaac Julien, Karen Knorr, Jo Longhurst, Sarah Maple, Betti Mautner, Steve McQueen, Lucy Pass, Mark Power, Jo Spence, Hannah Starkey, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Gillian Wearing, and Jane and Louise Wilson.

We are particularly pleased to have acquired the boxed sets of Anna Fox's Resort 1 and Resort 2 as well as the complete exhibition set of Mark Power's great series A System of Edges (aka 26 Different Endings)

Five years ago we launched the website to showcase our private collection of British photographs and to use the collection as an educational resource. We are committed to making the collection publicly accessible and to developing its educational role. As part of this, we are increasing our freely available online content. We have added more works to the website and provided more detailed cataloguing on individual works. We are also including a growing number of essays on bodies of work such as a substantial text on health and wellbeing from the 1930s to the present, Body Politics: A Picture of Health?


The Hyman Collection is the private collection of Claire and James Hyman. It began in 1996 and consists of over three thousand artworks, from across the world, in all media.

Highlights of the collection include:

- Anya Gallaccio's most famous work, Red on Green, a floor of ten thousand fragrant English tea roses laid on a bed of their stalks, which has been exhibited across the world.
- Zhang Huan's sculptures made from the ash of incense sticks burned in Buddhist Temples.
- Sam Taylor-Johnson's major four screen film installation, Pent Up.
Spitting Image original life-size puppets of Margaret Thatcher and her government ministers.
- Bill Brandt. One of the most important collections in the world
- Jo Spence. One of the most comprehensive collections in the world

In the last fifteen years the collection has focused on international photography from its origins to the present. In particular, the Hyman Collection seeks to support and promote British photography through acquisitions, commissions, loans and philanthropy. The collection includes artists working in photography as well as documentary photographers, and historic as well as contemporary photographs. It has an equal number of works by male and female artists and seeks, especially, to support the work of contemporary women photographers.

The Hyman Collection launches as an education resource based on British photographs in the private collection of Claire and James Hyman.

The Hyman Collection donates 125 photographs to the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, USA

The Hepworth Wakefield stages Modern Nature. Photographs from the Hyman Collection

The Hyman Collection donates 100 photographs to the Bodleian Library in Oxford, UK.

The Hyman Collection announces the first of a series of commissions, Heather Agyepong's new series Wish You Were Here (premiered Spring 2020).

The Hyman Foundation (Charity Commission No. 1190955) is set up to support photography in Britain.

Claire and James Hyman organise, stage and donate to fundraisers for the NHS-Covid-19 Appeal and The Trussell Trust.

The Arnolfini in Bristol stage two exhibitions of works from the collection: Jo Spence. From Fairy Tales to Photo Therapy and A Picture of Health. Women Photographers from the Hyman Collection.

December 24, 2020
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