A Woman's Work | The Refuge, Manchester.
8th March – 30th June, 2022
Part one of ‘A Woman’s Work’ features iconic social documentary photography from Tish Murtha (14th March 1956 – 13th March 2013).
One of the most pre-eminent British documentary photographers of the post-war era, Tish was known for capturing social change and everyday life on the fringes of society.
This is the first time Tish Murtha’s work has been exhibited in Manchester. The images on display are some of the most powerful images of British social photography of the last 50 years.
Exhibition Gallery | Tish Murtha
Follow the Tish Murtha gallery along The Refuge wall from right to left.
Also on display is the work of photographer Anne Worthington. Anne produced an incredible body of work documenting the inner city communities of East Manchester in the late 1990s and early 2000s before the regeneration of the area.
Anne “I took these photographs in Beswick, Clayton and Openshaw, three areas of industrial East Manchester. Areas that had employed thousands of people and very little remained. The streets housed a fraction of the people who used to live there. Like other parts of the UK, it’s a well trodden story.”
“The collapse of industry made this area one of the poorest in the city. East Manchester ended up being earmarked for regeneration, and by the time I started to take photographs here, streets in Beswick and Openshaw had been emptied and made ready for demolition. I’d meet people living in the one house still occupied in otherwise empty streets. Kids would take over those streets and walls got smashed in and fires lit in the empty houses. I got to know a family who’d started a club for young people to give them something else to do. They’d check on the kids most nights, the ones who were still out late into the night because some of them didn’t have stable places to call home. They opened their homes and gave them somewhere to stay”
“I met people down streets and on steps, and got more known as the photographer. It could be a tough place, sometimes a dark place, but rarely unhappy. People had a sense of purpose. They saw something wasn’t right and took it on. They’d been keeping their community going when other institutions had fallen away. And they knew how to have fun.”
“I got to know a few families and saw what can be overcome with that sense of belonging. Times have changed since I was there in the late 90’s and early part of the 2000’s. Some of the streets aren’t there now, kids were outside a lot then, and the clothes were different.”
Some people in the photographs still live in the area, they’ve married, grown up, got older. Some of them have died. The regeneration scheme came and went, the new houses were built, and the areas have changed. They are distinct from the rest of the city, still dislocated maybe, and the people are still kind, enduring, wise and angry.”