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The Photographers’ Gallery, London
16th July – 20th September 2015
Exhibition curated: Anna Douglas
Soundscape: Derek Lisbet
This exhibition Women and Children; and Loitering Men concentrates on a rich 20-year period in Shirley Baker’s career, in which she photographed the working class neighbourhoods of inner-city Salford and Manchester as they were experiencing protracted slum clearance.
The exhibition offered an original interpretation of her practice, presented as an installation of connecting and contrasting themes rather than as a chronological display. A life-size photograph created a dramatic entrance, setting the scene for the exhibition beyond. A commissioned composition using archive recordings of Shirley, interwoven with archive street sounds and entirely fictitious foley sounds, arrived at a richly layered composition that conceptually addressed the multifaceted nature of Shirley’s photographic imagery.
The exhibition was deemed a major success with audiences of a wide age range, attracting visitors from all over the world, and it received significant media coverage.
Shirley Baker: Women and Children; and Loitering Men was the first London show featuring Shirley Baker’s as a solo artist. It established her as a significant British photographer of the post-war era: a compassionate humanist photographer and teller of stories that make visible the spectrum of man’s resilience. The accompanying publication Women and Children; and Loitering Men features a foreword by Professor Griselda Pollock and a commissioned short story by award-winning author Jackie Kay. The catalogue sold out of both first and second editions before the exhibition ended.
Exhibition support: Arts Council England, Manchester School of Art (Manchester Metropolitan University), Symon and Mary Elliott, Mary Evans Picture Library, and the Shirley Baker Estate for their invaluable support.
Installation images © Kate Elliott
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