By Paul Wright
I received a copy of Adam T Burton’s new book this week called Hulme Photographs 1984 – 1987. The book contains images and stories of his time whilst living on John Nash crescent in Hulme. As in our previous blog No place like Hulme the images come from an interesting time in Hulme’s history when a multicultural and diverse community called Hulme their home.
It was also a time of high political activity, the UK miners’ strike was in full swing, anti-racism and gay rights marches were happening and Manchester’s activist population were making their voices heard. When the Manchester based Sri Lankan national Viraj Mendis was threatened with deportation Adam became involved in a number of marches and found himself the photographer for his defence campaign. Many Mancunians and people in the area at the time will remember the graffiti ‘Free Viraj Mendis’ and Viraj Mendis is our friend’ which was daubed across the walls and walkway bridges around Hulme and inner city Manchester.
The crescents were also a hotbed for crime and especially a haven for muggers. Posters warning against ‘giro mugging’ were stuck up around the stairwells and walls and many flats were plagued with numerous health and safety issues. On Adams first morning in his flat he witnessed two women having a street fight from his window, he recalls: “I heard some shouting at the back of my flat and looked out of my window, I took about four or five shots. I think that the fight was over a man, I heard “Stay away from my man!” a few times. The image of the little girl watching is heartbreaking. It’s a sad scene but only a fraction of a second in their story. It’s not sort of photography I am comfortable with, but I think important now in this historical and geographical context”.
Adam says of the book “It is no way a definitive guide to Hulme and the crescents during this period. These photographs are merely a record of my experiences whilst living there. I was in a privileged position to decide to live there and was fortunate enough to be able to leave when I wanted to. Although so much in the book is drab and cold, depressing and at times without hope, there was a great sense that we were all in it together”
“For anyone who was in Hulme at this time there will be things that are familiar and maybe forgotten and for those who were not I hope it proves an interesting record of that time and place”.
All photographs used courtesy of Adam T Burton.
Adams book Hulme Photographs 1984-1987 is available via Amazon here
Article by Paul Wright for British Culture Archive
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