On the Beach is a new exhi­bi­tion of less­er-seen work by Shirley Bak­er, held at Photo­fu­sion Pho­tog­ra­phy Cen­tre, Brix­ton from 12th May to 16th June. The pri­vate view was a huge suc­cess and cura­tor Anna Dou­glas gave a fas­ci­nat­ing gallery talk.


In a depar­ture from her more well-known pho­tos of 1960s Man­ches­ter and Sal­ford, as seen at last year’s exhi­bi­tion at The Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery, these works from the 1970s cap­ture peo­ple enjoy­ing leisure time at the sea­side. She pho­tographs British peo­ple in Black­pool and on the Cote d’Azur on the French Riv­iera, always with her unfail­ing eye for unusu­al com­po­si­tions, often cap­tur­ing qui­et­ly amus­ing moments.

Shirley Baker sun worshipper photo

After ded­i­cat­ing a decade to pho­tograph­ing urban land­scapes, Shirley may have found a dif­fer­ent envi­ron­ment to pho­to­graph, but in some ways she has not strayed so far from her pre­vi­ous work. Just as in the 1960s she pho­tographed the ‘end of an era’ – the ter­raced hous­es of Man­ches­ter torn asun­der and replaced by tow­er blocks, here she pho­tographs Eng­lish fam­i­lies and teens in Black­pool in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Loom­ing on the hori­zon is the low-cost hol­i­day pack­age to Spain, a lure which was to change the atti­tude to the British hol­i­day forever.

There may be a wry humour in her pho­tographs, but it is always gen­tle and com­pas­sion­ate. Shirley cared about the lives of the peo­ple she pho­tographed, she saw the pover­ty and hard­ship many were expe­ri­enc­ing and con­se­quent­ly her pho­tographs cap­ture the sto­ries and the lives of those she featured.

Anna Dou­glas, who also curat­ed Shirley’s last exhi­bi­tion at The Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery, adds: “Baker’s gaze alights kind­ly on her sub­jects, nev­er send­ing them up for a cheap laugh or sar­cas­tic dig.”

Shirley Baker ballon man photo


shirley baker t shirt

shirley baker t shirt

Photofusion: Shirley Baker On the Beach from 12th May to 16th June.

Photo­fu­sion Gallery is a won­der­ful space, locat­ed a min­ute’s walk to Brix­ton tube sta­tion. There is a pleas­ant and airy first-floor gallery space, and it was won­der­ful to be shown the dark­room by Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Kim Shaw. There are a mul­ti­tude of pho­tog­ra­phy cours­es avail­able to any­one who wants to learn about, or improve, their tech­nique. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Photo­fu­sion faces a dou­bling of their rent which could see this won­der­ful insti­tu­tion have to close. There is cur­rent­ly a Crowd­fund­ing cam­paign under­way to save it. Please help if you can. crowdfunder.co.uk/photofusion



My review of Shirley Bak­er at The Pho­tog­ra­phers’ Gallery “Women and Chil­dren; and Loi­ter­ing Men” is here Review link

2 thoughts on “Shirley Baker: On the Beach exhibition

  1. I real­ly want to see this exhi­bi­tion – looks amaz­ing! Any plans for it to come up north?

    1. The plan is to tour it, and hope­ful­ly take it up north. After all, Shirley Bak­er was from Man­ches­ter. Black­pool would be good but the new muse­um is a few years away.

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