I love discovering a new gallery or museum to add to the list of places to visit. I had never been to The Photographers Gallery until my husband suggested it on a wet Bank Holiday Monday a week or so ago. The gallery is tucked behind Oxford Circus, a little oasis of calm hidden from the hurly burly of the shops on Oxford Street. The gallery was founded in 1971 and was the first gallery in the world dedicated solely to photography. It remains the largest public photography gallery in London.
We went to see ‘Women, Children and Loitering Men’, an exhibition of the work of social documentary photographer Shirley Baker, and a portrait of the urban decline of late twentieth century Britain. This may not sound overly cheery but it’s a captivating exhibition, a social study of the urban clearance programmes of inner-city Manchester and Salford during 1961 – 1981. I was fascinated by the recent history. The photographs were often of children who would have been a similar age to me, wearing the same kinds of clothes that I wore in the 1970’s but living in a completely different environment, often surrounded by poverty and urban decay. As I looked into the intent faces of the children in the pictures I found my self asking what had become of them? What are they doing now? Did they leave the area? Do they now have their own children?
Street photography is about the story behind the photograph. I find myself increasingly interested in the untold or partially told stories that come with great photographs. This particular exhibition finishes on the 20th September but if you happen to be around Oxford Street in London and want to escape the throngs I recommend a visit to this gallery. It’s a great to recharge your batteries and enjoy some photography whilst taking in some coffee and cake in the comfortable cafe.
Images via The Photographers Gallery © Shirley Baker Estate,