Francis Hodgson / Who Speaks for Photography?
At the recent National Photography Symposium organised over three days in June 2014 by the Redeye network and GRAIN in the Birmingham Library, one of the panels discussed the question of the management of the national collections in the national interest. Coolly chaired by the founder of Redeye, Paul Herrmann, the panellists were Pete James, the curator of the photographic collections at the Birmingham Central Library; Michael Terwey, Head of Collections & Exhibitions at the National Media Museum; and Francis Hodgson, Professor in the Culture of Photography at the University of Brighton and photography critic for the Financial Times.
The discussion wove through a number of issues such as the recent meanderings of policy at the Media Museum, the potential rivalry between the Science Museum and the V&A across Exhibition Road in London, and the dearth of a national conservation team. In all of these areas, it came back via differing routes to the lack of a coherent policy for photography at the national level. UK photographic institutions in fact plot their own courses, with minimal consultation and collaboration between them. While that freedom has obvious advantages in terms of variety of coverage and approach, Hodgson has argued for a long time that it also has costs. He has several times proposed that some degree of direction would add sharpness to the national culture of photography.
Francis Hodgson had several weeks earlier discussed with Photomonitor the possibility of writing on the subject; we would have liked to run it here very much but his article arguing his case is too long for the web templates we use at Photomonitor. It has now appeared on his own blog.
It’s well worth a read; please follow this link: ‘Who Speaks for Photography?’ An essay by Francis Hodgson