The People’s City | A celebration of Life in the North West of England, 1980s-90s.

By Paul Wright | 21 March 2020, 10:00am

The People’s City is our current exhibition which is part of our 2020 residency at The Refuge, Manchester. Due to the recent and ongoing pandemic we wanted to bring you an online version of the exhibition so you can view the images (albeit a bit smaller) from the comfort of your home. Also we would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who visited the exhibition and everyone involved in making in happen – the team and staff at The Refuge and our exhibition sponsors 5 Plus Architects.

British Culture Archive Presents – The People’s City.

The People’s City is the first instalment of our residency at The Refuge which shines a light on the working classes and everyday people. Curated by British Culture Archive founder Paul Wright it gives us a glimpse into the landscapes of northern working class towns & cities, and those that lived, worked and partied there in the pre social media world of the 1980s and 90s.

The People’s City Exhibiton Poster.

Peter J Walsh – Hacienda, Boardwalk and Joy Rave – 1980s/90s.

As a photographer Peter Walsh was immersed in Manchester’s club scene and was one of few who documented the UK’s Acid House explosion in the city during the late 1980s. As well as his iconic images of Manchester’s Hacienda nightclub Peter also captured the spirit of the era as well as the many faces, bands and colourful fashions that graced the city during those pivotal years.

Peter: “I began working as a photographer for a documentary Co-op in Manchester in the mid 80s. It was here where I learned how to process films, make contact sheets and black and white printing. The photographers in the Co-op worked individually but we would meet once a month to compare and critique each other’s work and printing skills. The training I received in all aspects of documentary photography during this time would prove invaluable to me as the acid house and rave scene hit Manchester just a few years later”.

“I began shooting for City Life Magazine, Manchester’s equivalent of Time Out in London. After photographing the Happy Mondays gig on Granada TV’s ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ I was asked to work for the NME covering the North of England. I also began working regularly for The Face, i-D, and Mixmag”.

The images featured are a selection of Peter’s work that were taken at the Flesh and Temperance club nights at The Hacienda and also crowd shots from The Boardwalk. The outdoor shots were taken at the Joy rave in Ashworth Valley, Rochdale, 1989.

Peter J Walsh Gallery

Richard Davis – Hulme 1980s/90s

Richard Davis is a British social documentary and portrait photographer born in Birmingham in 1965. 

Richard’s interest in photography began in the early 1980s and has been a constant in his life ever since. Richard moved to Manchester in 1988 to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic and is currently still based in the North West. 

Richard created an important body of work documenting his surroundings whilst a resident of Hulme in the late 80s and early 90s. Built after the slum clearances of the 1960s, Hulme was made up of concrete walkways and maisonettes, housing it’s own shops and a library. The area was dominated by the four brutalist crescents named after the famous architects Robert Adam, Charles Barry, John Nash and William Kent. 

During the period Richard was living in Hulme the area was left largely abandoned by the council as it fell into decline and disrepair. It became its own self contained universe – a multicultural and diverse utopia right next to the city centre, consisting of long term residents, artists, ravers, drop-outs and punks. The flats and crescents of Hulme that Richard captured no longer exist and were bulldozed to make way for a new Hulme in 1993. It’s former residents have mixed feelings and memories of Hulme in the 80s and 90s, but Richard’s images are an important body of work which captured that time and spirit of Hulme well. 

Richard Davis Gallery

Rob Bremner – Liverpool 1980s/90s

Rob Bremner is a British social and documentary photographer born in Wick, a small village in the North of Scotland.

Rob left school at sixteen with no qualifications. He got his first job working in a garage, which he didn’t particularly like, but he soon got acquainted with a press photographer in Inverness who gave him a job on a youth training scheme (YTS). The scheme only lasted six months but Rob enjoyed it and decided to pursue his newfound passion for photography. In 1983 he enrolled on a photography course at Wallasey School of Art, swapping rural North East Scotland for the North West of England.

Whilst studying in Wallasey Rob became acquainted with celebrated photographer’s Tom Wood (who was teaching at the college) and Martin Parr. He would help out in Tom’s darkroom and spend his weekends following Tom, and occasionally Martin around the faded resort of New Brighton as they documented the area.

Rob was later accepted on to David Hurn’s School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales. It was around this time he started to photograph the Everton and Vauxhall areas of Liverpool, then the third most deprived area of Britain.

Rob Bremner’s photos captured the mood of these times, but also the everyday life and spirit of the people.

Rob “It was tough times, but I found everyone to be warm and friendly, and on rainy days they would ask me in for a cup of tea. I left my college Bronica in a pub one night after some dockers invited me for a drink, I returned the next day and they had left it behind the bar for me. I wish I could say I was a socially aware photographer, campaigning against Thatcher’s Britain, but I just felt comfortable taking photos there and liked the people”.

Rob Bremner Gallery

The People’s Archive | Snapshots from The North West | 1970s – 1990s.

The People’s Archive is our ongoing project and archive documenting crowdsourced images of everyday life, working class society and culture in the UK. 

The images highlight real life as it was for many of us growing up in a time before smartphones and social media.

As well as exhibiting the archive across towns and cities in the UK – we are currently crowdfunding to secure our long term goal of a permanent gallery space for the British Culture Archive / The People’s Archive in the North West which we hope to establish in 2020.

This will be a community hub where we can house the archive alongside exhibitions and events from our featured photographers.

You can find out more and support our crowfunder here

The People’s Archive Gallery

The People’s City – Posters, Prints & Pin Badges.

A number of The People’s City exhibition posters, prints & pin badges are now exclusively available from our online shop. All proceeds from sales support the photographers we work with and help maintain and fund our free resource and exhibitions in the UK.

2020 © British Culture Archive.

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