The last time I spoke to Clive was last January. He sounded rough. I’d not seen him since before Christmas and I’d just heard he’d been diagnosed with a brain tumour. What questions do you ask someone who’s coming to terms with that? “ How are ya feelin ?” I asked. Clive had a unique kind of wisdom which always made me think carefully when I was speaking with him. If I ever felt I got it wrong, which was frequently, he never let on ! “Well mate I’ve got a brain tumour” and I could sense his amusement down the phone as If to say ‘how do ya expect me to feel?’ If he was frightened he didn’t let on, but then Clive never seemed to be frightened of anything. He served in Northern Ireland and he’d been ‘shot at and bombed’ (his words) while going out on regular border patrols … so ? “Listen mate I’m telling you because there’s some people I want to know about this and some I don’t”. I felt extremely privileged such is the esteem I held him in, that out of all the people who know Clive he considered me one of those with which he felt he should share this, for whatever reason.
I knew Clive well enough to know that the only way he would want to deal with his tumour and the treatment he was to embark on was to treat it as a bit of a photographic project, and I was right, “Don’t be surprised If I bung you over some images to look at” he told me. The cruel irony for this photographer was that he was robbed of his sight.
Clive loved photography, he told me on more than one occasion that it saved his life when he left the army and he meant it. He not only loved it as an art form in itself but he revelled in the way he could experience life and people through the lens. He relished the access to people and places he was able to skilfully negotiate his way into. He talked to everyone in the same calm and polite way. He never looked up to people and he never looked down on them. He treated everyone the same. He was a bloody good photographer. He was very good! He could photograph a slug and make it look beautiful. He had a unique way of looking at things and his images are testament to this. I have one of his favourite images ‘Dog Eat Dog’ he printed for me framed in my office and he gave me the camera he took it on. He was a bloody good printer, thorough, meticulous and with a flair for good design. He was generous, particularly with his time. We’d go for a beer and talk the subject and Clive would often show me his latest work. We tended to like the same stuff. He influenced how I myself approached the subject and I know he influenced many others. He had an acute sense of humour; he delighted in the ironic which can often be seen in his images. His photo project Archive Sheffield which he’d been working on for about two years was beginning to gather momentum before his illness took hold. The images he’d made so far were typical of his approach. Always questioning, always looking but at the core Clive’s love of his home city and its people.
It was a privilege to know, work with and call a friend. I’m a better person for having known him. I’m going to miss him terribly.
You can see some of Clive’s amazing work here http://archive-sheffield.org/