Richard Burton playing cricket whilst dressed as Alexander The Great might not be what you expect to find in The National Collection of Welsh Photographs housed here in the National Library of Wales, but it illustrates the diversity of the collection. It is just one of the 1.2 million photographs held here for the people of Wales which range from the first recorded photograph to have been taken in Wales – on 9 March 1841 by Reverend Calvert Richard Jones at Margam Castle – to images which were taken only this year, such as those by Jack Lowe and Nick Treharne, recently purchased by the Library. It’s a collection that continues to develop and despite the effects of austerity, we have continued to buy works by contemporary photographers. These include the likes of Abbie Trayler-Smith, Pete Davis, Amanda Jackson and Rhodri Jones.
Amongst our holdings are many works by the greats of photography – such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Bill Brandt, Carleton Watkins, Angus McBean and Philip Jones Griffiths to give just a few examples. During the last month we have also sought to draw attention to the wealth of photographs of the far-flung corners of the world, whether Fiji, Venezuela or Yemen. The collection also includes the work of Welsh photographers, recording all aspects of life in Wales. Personally, I am very proud of the fact that this is a democratic collection. It is open to receive relevant material from anyone, it’s definitely not an exclusive club restricted to the greats of photography. After all who better to document a community than those who live in it?
Hopefully, the vlogs and tweets we’ve shared and events held here over the last few weeks have illustrated the depth and breadth of this collection.
This is a collection of photographs of, about and for the people of Wales. It’s your collection, which tells your story, so please use it and above all enjoy it. Visit The National Library of Wales’ website to find out more.
A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.
Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.