Richard: “I grew up in Birmingham and left school in 1982 with no real qualifications and no idea what to do. I spent a few years on various worthless schemes, but mostly I was signing on. It was whilst on the dole my interest in photography really began. I got involved with the Birmingham Trades Council ‘Centre For The Unemployed’ and was encouraged to go out and photograph things that caught my eye in the streets, as well as the many political demonstrations happening around that time in the Midlands”.
“They had a darkroom at the centre which I really took too, and it wasn’t long before I was teaching basic photography and darkroom skills to other unemployed people. I loved it and a lifelong love of photography began. Someone at the centre suggested I should look at getting a qualification in photography and before I knew it I was accepted onto a course at Manchester Polytechnic which began in September, 1988”.
“I’d always loved Manchester music – I didn’t need any persuasion in leaving Birmingham for a new life up north! On day one at the Poly we were all advised not to go into Hulme, a neighbouring district to where the Poly was sited. A dangerous, lawless place to be avoided we were told, so obviously the next day I decided to explore Hulme and see for myself. I never did like anyone telling me what I should or shouldn’t do!”
“Little did I know at the time this place would play a massive role and shape my life for many years to come. I took to Hulme straight away, how could you not – it was just so damn photogenic and so very different from anywhere I’d seen before. A lot of it was derelict, whilst what was occupied tended to consist of a diverse mix of artists, musicians, ex-students & the unemployed – the kind of people mainstream society seemed to reject”.
As well as his documentary work, Richard captured the many bands, comedians and artists that came to prominence during Manchester’s creative explosion of the late 1980s.