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John Hinde FRPS by The National Media Museum (written for publication in Nothing to write home about)

John Wilfrid Hinde was born on May 17, 1916, in Street, Somerset, the great grandson of James Clark, the founder of C J Clark Ltd., the shoemakers, of which his father was a director. In 1919, an illness left Hinde with a permanent disability in his left leg that subsequently involved him spending much of the next eight years on his back. In 1930, the local village chemist encouraged Hinde's interest in photography and in 1934, during his last year in school, he attempted to make his first colour photograph. He then joined the family business only to leave it to study architecture in a Bristol-based practise in 1935.

Hinde continued to work in black and white, making his name in the RIBA annual photographic competitions, and experiment with colour photography (using the notoriously difficult three colour carbro process) between 1934 and 1937; during the latter year he was elected as an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and became a Fellow in 1943. The year of 1937 was important in other ways too in terms of how Hinde's methods and aesthetics of colour photography evolved. Enrolling at the Reimann School to study photography, he was taught by Frank Newens, a leading exponent of new methods of colour printing. Hinde then set up a studio in London in partnership with John Yerbury in 1939. During the 1939-45 War he acted as a war photographer covering scenes of the Blitz and between times, and for the rest of the 1940s was pre-occupied with the reproduction of colour photographs in books. Of particular interest is his work with Adprint publishers who developed the 'Britain in Pictures' series, an association that links his work with war-time Britain and the propaganda potential – as well as the creative possibilities - of colour photography. Hinde also exhibited his colour prints in RPS exhibitions as well as lecturing to the Society while pursuing other publishing projects with Collins and Harrap.

In 1944, he was included in Cecil Beaton's important book British Photographers in recognition of the artistic success he had attained with the colour process. Throughout this period, Hinde was prolific as an artist, advertising photographer and to some extent entrepeneur. He travelled to America in the hope of getting involved with film, travelled around Ireland showing cinema films in village halls and toured Britain with Reco's Circus. In 1949 he became PR manager for Chipperfield and Bertram Mills circuses where he met his wife, Jutta, a flying trapeze artist many years his junior. After a failed attempt to open his own travelling variety show in 1955, he returned to photography and founded John Hinde Limited, the company through which his colour work would reach an international audience. A notable series in this new project was the set of photographs made for Butlin's of various holiday camps but subjects included beach scenes, indigenous activities and tourist related themes from America, Africa, Asia, and the West Indies. The most extensive postcard work was carried out however in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Hinde's success in the postcard business parallels the post-war expansion of the tourist industry. Within a decade, the portfolio of Irish postcards for example, increases from 30 to 300. From his base in Dublin, the Hinde company expanded rapidly until its sale in 1972 at a time when sales where in excess of 50 million postcards (or viewcards as he preferred to call them) worldwide. Following his retirement of the business he moved to Continental Europe where he lived in France and Spain until his death in 1997.

Despite the evolution of Hinde's fascination with colour from the exhibition print, to book illustration to a mass-produced format, he is widely regarded as
formative figure in the dialogue between the fine arts, design and popular culture. Recently, a books and exhibition have celebrated this overlooked figure in the art of photography, a celebration that acknowledges the popular resonance of his postcards and his publishing achievements, but also the sublime, optimistic and dream-like appearance of his colour photography that is a vital resource for understanding the social and cultural history of 20th Century Britain.

Finally, the currency of Hinde's work has shifted. In 2003 and 2004, an exhibition dedicated to the Hinde Company's work toured internationally and to great acclaim. This is testimony to the place his work now occupies in contemporary consciousness within the visual arts. His pictures reflect a fascination with the everyday, subject matter that was close to the imagery in the 1950s and 60s that characterised Pop Arts’ engagement with popular culture. That culture needs to be preserved and better understood as a distinct cultural form as well as being acknowledged as a source for creativity.

Hinde's contribution is layered and without precedent; the Archive offers a way of articulating the intricacies of the colour process through an oeuvre that so richly illustrates the technical and aesthetic possibilities of the medium; one which engages so meaningfully with other elements of the National Collection.