Exhibition announcement – Capturing the Modern Backdrop: Shirley Baker photographing Salford

Get your 2023 diaries and calendars at the ready! From 20th January to 21st April 2023 we will be running a small exhibition of the work of the Salford-born social documentary photographer, Shirley Baker at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.

Mother and children walk along deserted cobbled street
© Estate of Shirley Baker / Mary Evans Picture Library

The exhibition will focus on the way in which the change to the built environment of Salford from ‘slum’ to modern, was captured in Shirley’s work. The photographs will be displayed alongside material from the Working Class Movement Library’s own collections to stimulate the recollection of people’s memories of living in Salford at this moment in time. 

Shirley Baker was born in Kersal in 1932 and took up photography at the age of eight when she and her twin sister were given cameras by an uncle.  Shirley went on to study Pure Photography at Manchester College of Technology, followed by courses at London Regent Street Polytechnic and London College of Printing, at a time when few women received formal photographic training.

During the 1960s and 1970s Shirley photographed the inner-city working-class communities of Manchester and Salford as they experienced the ‘sum clearances’.  Shirley’s photographs have been described a ‘empathetic but unsentimental’ and demonstrate her interest in humanist subjects, a curiosity of human character and compassion for social injustice.  The works specially selected for the exhibition show a community and landscape caught in transition. 

The exhibition will be located on the ground floor exhibition space of the Working Class Movement Library. It will be open to drop in visitors Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons from 1.00pm – 4.30pm. Entry is free.  

6 Replies to “Exhibition announcement – Capturing the Modern Backdrop: Shirley Baker photographing Salford”

  1. Fabulous to see Shirley Baker’s work recontexualised in this way: linking class experience, migration and urbanisation. Would be happy to support this project in anyway you might see fit. Kind regards Dr Anna Douglas, curator and author of Women and Children; and Loitering Men: Shirley Baker

  2. Born in the 1950’s in Whalley Range and playing in the ‘bomb site’ of Moss side as a child . Seeing the world in monochrome . I can’t wait to see this exhibition . I look on those times with mixed feelings . Adventure , freedom , community acceptance mixed with poverty and hardship .

    1. Hi Deborah,
      Thank you for your interest! I hope to see you on Friday. If you cannot make it, the exhibition is still on show until April 21st.

  3. Would love to see this exhibition.
    My mum, grandparents and great grandparents lived in Hanky Park until it was pulled down.
    Am very fascinated with photography from that era.
    Love Shirley Bakers work.
    Where is this held please and do I need to book ?

    1. Hi Tracey, The exhibition will be up until the 21st of April in the Working Class Movement Library. This Friday, we are opening the exhibition at 4pm. Feel free to come along.

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