LONG before the world knew it as "Toxteth", the teeming communities of Liverpool 8 thrived in mansions, two-up-two-downs and everything in between. The area's mixture of classes, colours, creeds and cultures were unparalleled in the rest of the city.
In the early 1970s, photographer Tricia Porter met her future husband David, a student at Liverpool University. He was keen to document what he sensed was a changing climate in the inner city and Tricia joined him to photograph the people they met.
Now their work, two collections of 40-year-old black and white images, have been resurrected and which will go on show at the Bluecoat next month as part of the LOOK/15 international photography festival.
"The couple were welcomed into the area, and gained the trust of the residents who allowed them access to their lives, businesses and homes," say organisers.
Bedford Street, Liverpool 8 (1972) focuses on residents in their homes, at work or out and about in the area. They include well-known characters, such as social campaigner and local councillor Margaret Simey and eminent Liverpool sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith at work in his studio at the Bluecoat.
In Some Liverpool Kids (1974), young people predominate, going about their daily lives in their homes, schools, clubs, shops and streets.
There are drinkers in pubs, such as our very own Belvedere, and shots taken in the chippy on Falkner Street, long before the area became gentrified and turned into places like The Quarter.
“It was,” says Porter, “an attempt to make a photo documentary which would be a positive and meaningful statement about my neighbours, who had all too often been treated as statistical fodder and sociological phenomena.”
The Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs says, “Tricia’s images have an immediacy and freshness, despite being taken over four decades ago and the places they evoke having changed, in some cases beyond all recognition. There is an honesty to them that makes them so compelling and resonant today.”
The exhibition, which opens on April 4 is complemented by an illustrated publication containing essays by Porter, Biggs and Kevin Davies who appears in the photographs as a young man.
The exhibition, which runs until July, is financially supported by L8 Legacy Projects. With thanks to National Museums Liverpool.
Here is a selection of what you can expect.
Father Crowley In The Overgrown Garden At St Philip Neri Church 1972
Men In Myrtle Street By The Bedford Buildings 1972
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