About this Archive
China Hamilton was born Nicholas Zeger Driver in Norbury, London and was an established artist and one of the leading fine art erotic photographic printers of the twentieth century. His work often examined the darker side of female sexuality alongside his more traditional erotic pictures. Sadomasochistic subjects inspire much of China’s later work, which has made this aspect of his work controversial; though its reflection upon the power and private expression of women has brought a new sensitivity and respect to the subject. His unique and distinctive style of image has often been the inspiration for the work of other photographers.
China strove to produce photographs that were each unique pieces of creative work. In this quest, he mastered and improved upon many historic processes and has contributed to photographic science a number of new printing processes, including making photographic images upon hand-made watercolour paper and copper sheets. China attended Croydon Technical School before spending four years at Croydon College of Art and Design where he specialised in life drawing under the renowned Fred Janes and studied fine art, graphic design and photography under Herman Hecht. He first started making his own sunlight prints and processing his own film at age eleven and at age thirteen started painting and drawing seriously. Paintings and drawings of wild landscapes and the female nude have always run alongside his photographic work.
He was a polymath, having a particular passion for precision engineering. He rebuilt and raced historic racing cars and motorcycles; built and drove model steam engines and was a boiler inspector for steam locomotives, and was a Master Clocksmith; He loved Irish Music and was an accomplished bones and bodhran player, cutting the first ever album of traditional bones playing (“Bare Bones”) and wrote the first tutor for the bodhran and the bones.
He was a Buddhist and held qualifications in Herbal Medicine and was well known for his poems and erotic short stories, many of which have been published. Early in his career he and a partner established London’s first specialist macro-photography business of fine art antiques for dealers and the major London auction houses.
China also published the journal, ‘The Black and White Art Photographer’ during the 1990s.
China’s work is in many private collections, including the collection of the Museum of Erotic Art, Miami. Over the past thirty years, he has had several exhibitions of erotic art and photography and his paintings. His work has appeared in many book compilations and his photographs have been included in “The New Erotic Photography” (Taschen), featuring the work of 82 of the world’s most significant photographers of the erotic.
He was selected as the senior Juror for the 2007 Erotic Signature Competition. China was also a founder member of the Association of Erotic Artists.
Scope and content
Archive of fine art photographer China Hamilton (1946-2018) (donated to the Institute by Subba Hamilton), including: Hard Backed Black Folio in Sleeve containing 56 photographic prints of images from China’s books; as well as exact versions of images from China’s books, 1990-2008; Hard Backed Purple Folio in Sleeve, entitled '13th May 2000', containing 51 photographic prints from China’s books; as well as exact versions of images from China’s books, 1991-1999; unframed photographic prints for Hamilton's book 'A View From Behind', including prints with page number/ sequencing written by China on back of each photo and containing 40 prints out of 50 published in the book, 1990-1995; 164 unframed photographic prints of Subba Hamilton, including Silver Selenium prints and historic process photographs, 1987-1995; 46 unframed photographic prints of Emily Ovenden, 1993-2006; 58 photographic prints of various models and still lifes, 1991-2008; 25 very large photographic prints, including historic process photographs, 1989-1993; Framed Photographs & Paintings by Hamilton, 1984-1999; Hamilton's artist chops and stamps (12 items), n.d.; published works, including photographic books, magazines and postcards, 1987-2017; selected poetry by Hamilton, 2010-2017; record, papers and recordings of Hamilton and others on the Bones, Bodhran and Button Accordion, 1979-2001; personal papers and artefacts, including model Navy Colt Revolver, letters, diaries, estate papers and photographs, 1946-2018; over 1,000 finished “Worked Images” from Hamilton's laptop, as bequeathed to Subba Hamilton, 2007-2011.
19 various size boxes; over 1,000 digital files
For further information on China Hamilton and his work, please visit www.chinahamilton.com