I came across the photographer Shirley Baker through my research into childrenswear of the 20th century. Her street photography in the working-class neighbourhoods of 1950s Manchester strikes at something essential in my exploration of nostalgia. Despite the vastly different landscape – the slum clearances, the visible poverty, the overcrowding – these photographs are instantly relatable. The attitudes and movements of the children at play, the way the mothers stand in relation to each other, the way the sunlight falls.
Shirley Baker did an excellent interview with the Tate in 2013, connecting her work to that of another artist I love, L.S. Lowry. She said,
A lot of people collected Lowry prints because they reminded them of where they were. It was nostalgia. I hate that word! Though I do understand feelings about past memories. Nostalgia comes later and at that time I was working in the present, and so was Lowry. The other important thing to remember was that many of the people lived in dreadful conditions and their houses had to be pulled down. Then of course, when they built up the new stuff, it wasn’t very long before they pulled all that down too.