Tricia Porter is returning to Liverpool 40 years after she photographed the city, to talk about her project in two special events at the Bluecoat.
The London based photographer’s exhibition has proved extremely popular with its stark documentation of inner city Liverpool in the early 1970s.
Taken a decade before the area was in the media spotlight following what was dubbed the Toxteth Riots in 1981, Tricia’s evocative black and white images paint a vivid picture of everyday life in Liverpool 8 at a time when its tight knit communities were being fragmented by significant inner city developments.
The project came about when Porter met her future husband David, then a student at Liverpool University. He was keen to document the changing community, and Tricia joined him to photograph the people they met.
The couple were welcomed into the area, and gained the trust of the residents who allowed them access to their lives, businesses and homes. The resulting images, which will go on show as part of the LOOK/15 international photography festival, give a thought-provoking insight into everyday life in L8.
In ‘The ethics of portrait photography’ on Saturday 16 May at 5.30pm, Tricia will discuss her experiences of documenting Toxteth and Liverpool 8 with fellow photographer Othello De’Souza-Hartley.
Tricia returns to the Bluecoat on Thursday 18 June 6-8pm for ‘L8 Revisited with Tricia Porter’ where she will talk in the gallery about her photographs. This will be followed by refreshments and a discussion with people from Liverpool 8, some of them featured in the images. Both events are free.
In Tricia’s exhibition, the series 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.
Taken together, these two series offer an affectionate portrait of this multicultural area and its people, from children playing on Windsor Street to families at home and drinkers in the pubs.
“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 is complemented by an illustrated publication containing essays by Tricia Porter, Bryan Biggs and Kevin Davies, who appears in the photographs as a young man.