Location: Embassy, Skegness.   Date: Feb. 2018

Patience . . . 

Alec Manning by John Byford

From Friday 16th February until Wednesday 18th April 2018 @ The Embassy, Skegness

We now live in an 'impatient' world, where the technology of the ‘Snapchat’ age has sped up the pace of life and our communications with fellow man.

Billions of images are changed, cropped, distorted and disposed of in the blink of an eye  then discarded, sent, deleted or shared in the most nonchalant and disposable of ways -and this can diminish their impact and influence.

Perhaps, subconsciously, we no longer take enough time to really think about the beauty of what has been framed?

However, the power of images and the skill of harnessing beautiful images (particularly of people), is the story of how this exhibition came into being:

Back in 1999, whilst walking along Drummond Road in Skegness, I was drawn to an original black-and-white photograph of a beautiful lady, entitled ‘Patience’ in a junk shop window.

The image, along with several hundred negatives, photos, photographic equipment and more personal items were being offered for sale as part of a house clearance after Alec Manning’s death.

As a photographer myself, I realised that many of the images were not only beautiful works of art, but an important social/historical document that should be preserved and I was horrified to learn the items would have been thrown away had no interest been shown.

Cataloguing the collection of over 1000 black-and-white negatives, (all shot on 120mm film) and digitally scanning and printing them with the absence of a darkroom was and still is, an arduous task.

Seen on display is only a fraction of the collection, with an emphasis on people, as opposed to recognisable local landmarks in Skegness.

Most of the images have never been seen before today, with only a handful ever being printed for exhibitions back in the 1950’s.

Despite appeals in the local press, I know little about Alec, other than he was born in Nottingham on August 7, 1914 (just days after the outbreak of the First World War)

He served as an airman in the RAF (No. 957144) from August 1940 until October 1945 and after release in 1945, it is believed he had an insurance business at 21 Algitha Road in Skegness. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 84.

I never met Alec and I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like - but what I can tell you, is that he had a passion, like myself, for photographing people and after first discovering ‘Patience’, I wanted to know more about the woman in the image and the man behind the camera!

Clearly, Alec’s work took 'Patience' and he made time to reflect on and photograph the most innocent of images, often un-staged, which are frequently the most beautiful - albeit, taken with skill, art, thought, timing and flair.

Captured by the beholder, Alec Manning, please enjoy these photos almost lost forever!

John Byford

Curator and passionate photographer

© Alec Manning / Byford Collection
BBC Arts Page - Byford

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