Known for her street photography—mainly around the working class neighbourhoods of Greater Manchester—Shirley Baker was one of a very few female street photographers in post-war England; her quietly enrapturing images possessing an individual quality that distinguished the sensitivity she held for her subjects.
Alongside her now iconic black and white portraits, London’s James Hyman Gallery presents an online exhibition (after all, that’s what we do these days) of largely unseen photographs from the vaults. The engaging show, co-curated by Hyman alongside Baker’s daughter Nan Levy, also includes images of colour, something rare in the pioneering photographer’s portfolio.
The exhibition—viewable on the gallery’s website until 24 July—explores her representation of older people, the show celebrating Baker’s humanist documentary work specifically from the mid 1960s to the mid ’80s, a reminder of how the older generation went about their daily lives, enjoying a sense of community that we’re not privy to these days; especially as the coronavirus pandemic has kept the elderly away from friends and loved ones.
Hampered by the denial of a role for women in a man-lead industry, Baker’s contribution to photography was not recognised until recent years. With these honest and raw images conjuring feelings of nostalgia and a hankering for a simpler life, let us be thankful that her work is now appreciated by a wider audience.
Shirley Baker, A Different Age continues online until 24 July.