Online Exhibition, James Hyman Gallery, 22nd June – 26th July 2020
Shirley Baker: A Different Age
Header photo: Manchester 1985
‘James Hyman Gallery is pleased to present an online exhibition of largely unseen photographs by Shirley Baker, selected from the photographer’s estate. The exhibition includes her rare colour work as well as iconic black and white images.’
Shirley Baker (1932 – 2014) is one of Britain’s most fascinating yet unexplored social documentary photographers, particularly considering the era in which she started actively shooting. A woman practicing street photography in post-war Britain was a rarity, her gritty, expressive style a poignant reflection of the times. Shirley’s pictures show the flip-side to the hype of London’s swinging 60s, instead concentrating on the reality of the local people in the area around her Manchester home. From traditional flat caps to the vintage style and sometime glamour of the working class, the images are beautifully composed without being posed, her work continuing to record urban life over the following decades.
For those who question the validity of street photography, Shirley Baker’s pictures go a long way to explaining how, especially over time, capturing the everyday scenes around us offers an important visual timeline as good as any history book, memories for some and a chance to better understand the past for others.
Top left: Manchester (Man with Pigeons) 1967
Top right: Stockport Road, Stockport 1967
Bottom: Chester 1966
Further details here from the press release:
The exhibition focuses on Shirley Baker’s celebrated street scenes photographed around Manchester and Salford and explores her depiction of older adults.
Nan Levy, Shirley Baker’s daughter, who has curated the show with James Hyman, explains, “Having been in lockdown for the past weeks and only just being allowed out, it made me think of our elderly folk who are still unable to see their loved ones. They cannot even visit their sons and daughters or take pleasure from playing their grandchildren for fear of catching the virus. I have put a collection of Shirley’s photographs of the elderly taken from the 60s to the 80s showing them taking pleasure from the simple things in daily life that sadly are not possible at the moment”.
Shirley Baker, writing of her motivations captures a world of street life that seems like a distant memory, “I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time”.
You can see more of Shirley Baker’s photography here.
Words excluding press release by Siobhan
6th July 2020