The less heard, the less obvious.

Shirley Baker: A Different Age

Later this month, James Hyman Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of the prolific street photographer Shirley Baker, in a show that celebrates the elderly.

Over the past few months it has become increasingly apparent that it’s going to be a long time before we can go back to full normality. During this difficult time, people across the world have been unable to go about their daily routines and with lockdown not being fully eased at this moment in time, it’s in the government’s hands of when people will be allowed to see their loved ones and socialise with friends again. For the elderly across the world, this has been a challenge. With many living alone and families not being able to visit, it’s been a time that has seen communities come together to help out the most vulnerable in our society. 

In a digital exhibition that launches on 22nd June, Nan Levy and James Hyman Gallery have co-curated a show that focuses on Shirley Baker’s celebrated street scenes photographed around Manchester and Salford in the north of England. This exhibition specifically explores her depiction of older people. “We are now starting to see the easing of the lockdown and with that we can begin to step outside, enjoy the sunshine and play sport. Sadly our elderly folk are still advised to stay safe at home; unable to see their loved ones or enjoy simple pleasures such as going to the park. I have gathered together a collection of Shirley’s photographs taken from the mid 60s to the mid 80s; these show older people enjoying their daily lives in the community in a way that is not possible at the moment.” Says Levy, Shirley Baker’s daughter. 

Shirley Baker, is today recognised as one of the preeminent British photographers of the post war period, and one of a very small number of women street photographers in post-war England. Based in the streets of Manchester and Salford, Baker’s photographs also provide a northern counterpart for the type of street photography practised in London at the same period by Roger Mayne, which also saw a focus on children. However Baker’s photography has a particular, individual quality that distinguishes her work and her sensitivity to her subjects. 

A middle aged man in flat cap and raincoat feeds two very friendly pigeons whilst seated on a park bench in Manchester. Photograph by Shirley Baker Date: 1967

An elderly couple stroll along a Stockport street, both seemingly put out by something! Photograph by Shirley Baker Date: 1967

Two ladies find the perfect spot for their picnic at an Agricultural Show, amid the hay bales and the heifers! Photograph by Shirley Baker Date: 1983

An elderly gentleman in his small open top sports car, pauses by the bank of the River Dee in Chester to read his road map. His parking spot is not particularly well chosen, as he is in close proximity to a sign which reads ‘No Waiting’. Photograph by Shirley Baker Date: 1960

An elderly lady wearing a headscarf stands beside an old Silver Cross pram, laden with rags on A Manchester street. Photograph by Shirley Baker Date: 1968

Elderly lady and ginger cat in a street. circa 1970s

An elderly man feeds the pigeons on the street in Hulme, Manchester. Photograph by Shirley Baker Date: 1965

See the exhibition Here.

See more of Shirley’s work Here.

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