Over 155,000 images from Hackney photographers collection to be shared with public

Over 155,000 wonderful photographic negatives from the studio collection of Hackney photographer RA Gibson will soon be available for public viewing, thanks to a £94,792 grant.

Hackney Museum and Archives received the money from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund to research, document and share RA Gibson's photographic studio collection taken mainly in the 50s, 60s and 70s at Gibson’s photographic studio, Lower Clapton Road, E5. The collection of mostly individual and family portraits gives an amazing look into the lives of local Hackney over thirty-years.

The two year project Changing Faces: Hidden Stories starts in summer 2016 and will enable the council to connect more people and families with their memories through a searchable online catalogue, expected to be available in 2018.

Visitors to Hackney Museum will have seen a small selection from the collection in the 2014 Black History Season exhibition, Strike a Pose. Twenty two of the 100 portraits displayed, including the feature image of Huntley "Junior" Thompson have been identified. The new catalogue will allow for more names to be put to faces.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council
The Strike a Pose exhibition was a wonderful peek into Hackney’s past and we are very excited about being able to put more names to the many faces in the collection.

Once we’ve opened the vast collection people will be able to look and share their stories and experiences of Hackney past.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council

The two year project is a collaboration between the Council’s Hackney Museum and Hackney Archives, where the collection is cared for. A new project officer will be recruited to support the project with a number of volunteer opportunities from summer 2016.

Jonathan Catherall, the Museums Association's programmes manager, said: "There was a great deal of competition for grants in this round, demonstrated by the quality of the six funded projects. Each of the projects will work with fascinating collections and have significant impact on audiences and on the sector.”

The Museums Association (MA) Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund helps organisations with heritage collections. Hackney was one of six projects to get a share of £521,509. The entire Gibson's photographic negative collection was generously donated to Hackney Archives by Kevin Danks.

Here you can see some of those photographed including Huntley “Junior” Thompson talking about their time in Hackney: https://vimeo.com/hackneymuseum