Shirley Baker of boys playing at rubbish dump on cars

Shirley Baker at Play Well exhibition, Wellcome Trust

posted in: News | 0

We are delighted to announce that Shirley Baker is included in a new exhibition at the Wellcome Trust called Play Well with three of her photographs on show. The show explores the theme of play, exploring its significance throughout history, and delves into its importance in human behaviour and development, especially where children are concerned. 

The exhibition includes video games, artworks and live-action role-play.

The theme of children at play was always interesting to Shirley – she documented post-war families in Manchester where children had few material possessions and lived in considerable poverty. Yet her images also expressed the joy and creativity of children at play, and the sense of community that bonded people together. Her photos capture a time of huge upheaval in Salford and Manchester and many children played in the ruins of bombed out buildings and building sites as the new world of high-rise council flats sprung up around them.

This was a time when ‘health and safety’ had not been heard – many children, especially young boys, were delighted by the playground of wasteland rubble and old cars to play in. The sense of adventure is palpable and the ability to play outside, unsupervised, in what would be considered a dangerous environment today, seems like a different world than ours today.

The Wellcome Collection, 24 October – 8 March 2020. Free entry.

Girls upside down photo by Shirley Baker
Girls upside down