Further reading: David Hurn on the Magnum website, and definitely read, On Being a Photographer — an excellent, very easy to read conversation between Hurn and Bill Jay.
This selection of images is from the body of work commissioned by the Scottish Post Office in 1985 to celebrate the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the GPO. I adopted a humanistic approach to the project, seeking to portray the dedication of a range of the organisation’s employees as well as highlighting the importance of the Post Office to both urban and rural communities in Scotland. I had always been a great admirer of John Grierson’s film Night Mail (1936) and was proud to be commissioned in a similar manner to produce a piece of work based on the activities of the Post Office.
The images were made mainly in Edinburgh and various locations in the West of Scotland. Throughout my travels, I encountered extraordinary kindness on the part of the employees and have very fond memories of the time I spent with them. I was deeply impressed by their commitment to their work and how such commitment contributed to the wellbeing of the wider community. No matter how remote the location, or inhospitable the weather conditions, one always had the sense that ‘the mail would get through’.
The project was never disseminated as planned and indeed never fully completed. The Scottish Post Office view was that the images were too ‘down-market’ for public consumption given the host of political pressures (related to possible privatisation) it was under at the time. My feeling was that as a commissioned artist as opposed to a commercial practitioner, I reserved the right to produce work which functioned outwith the immediate promotional concerns of the organisation. We agreed to differ and parted company just as I was about to embark on making portraits of employees in more managerial roles. Nevertheless, hopefully I still managed to produce an engaging body of work, supportive of what was a deeply impressive national institution.
David Williams is Reader of Photography at Edinburgh College of Art.
All images and text © David Williams.
Today is Daniel Meadows’ 40th movie. The final in an amazing 40 week insight to his archive at the Library of Birmingham, ref. MS 2765. Please use the links on Daniel’s Vimeo page to share the movies, and visit the library where the entire archive is housed.
Thank you Daniel.
This week’s movie from Daniel Meadows is the 39th of 40. That means next week is the last…Then I suggest a day watching the lot and a trip to the Library of Birmingham to see the work it relates to, and all that surrounds it.
As Daniel posted on Facebook, “If there is one person’s story that sums up the meaning of my bus adventure, this is it. Florence Alma Snoad is number 39 of the 40 movies I made to celebrate the acquisition of my archive by the Library of Birmingham. We are nearing the end.”
The latest of Daniel’s movie releases. Prestwich Hospital in Manchester and the then new, Clayton Ward. Great narration on this movie, a personal favourite!
On Thursday I will realise a book to accompany this movie, Clayton Ward 1978. This book is the final title in Daniel’s Eight Stories series, which we’ve worked on over the past year.
The Daniel Meadows archive is at the Library of Birmingham, ref. MS 2765
This week’s instalment from Prince Charles copy / Daniel Meadows, Multistory and the Daniel Meadows archive at the Library of Birmingham. Mush, sells hoovers.