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

A reminder that 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 ‘slum clearances’.  Shirley’s photographs have been described a ‘empathetic but unsentimental’ and demonstrate her interest in human 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.

There will be 15 photographs on display dating from 1962 to 2000.

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.

Please note that the Working Class Movement Library is scheduled to be closed for drop in visitors between Monday 30th January to Friday 10th February 2023. If you are planning to visit the exhibition during this time period please check the WCML’s webpages or this blog before travelling for up to date information about opening times.

4 Replies to “Exhibition opening – Capturing the Modern Backdrop: Shirley Baker photographing Salford”

  1. I live in Canada now, but was born in Salford 3. I would love to see these images, but travel is out of the question. Can the photographs be viewed online?

    1. Hi Duncan, Thank you for your comment. The Working Class Movement Library is in Salford, just opposite the main campus of the university. Here is their website, it contains the address and a description of how to get there: https://www.wcml.org.uk

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