Strangeways Riot 1990 © Howard Barlow. All images courtesy of the photographer and A Belonging Project. Via submission

For over 40 years, photojournalist Howard Barlow has worked for the broadsheets, capturing many significant events in Manchester’s history.

He photographed everything from political party conferences, the visit of the Pope and the Manchester air crash to the Strangeways riot, and the IRA bombing.

You can see some of these iconic news images in Common Ground, an exhibition at St Ann’s Church in Manchester until 30 November, alongside some of his earlier work when Barlow captured ordinary people immersed in their own thoughts, their own space, perhaps almost in exile amidst the activity of the everyday.

“The photographs were taken during my early years as a photographer around Salford and Manchester in 1980,” Barlow tells Creative Boom. “Street photography in the purest sense saw just my old Leica and me wandering the streets, chatting to the rag & bone man, the parents whose kids were playing in the rubbish skip next to the old Maine Road football ground. Each belonging to a family, neighbourhood and community.

“I wanted to document the changing faces of the inner city. I sensed that as the terraced streets were being demolished then the area just wouldn’t be the same again, society and community were beginning to change. It was interesting that, even in this turmoil of redevelopment, the children still managed to play out in the streets. You could say it was a time of innocence.”

Barlow has revisited some of these communities in the last few months. He adds: “I’m extremely grateful to the members of Salford’s Victory Outreach who gave me the freedom to observe their lives and specifically their ‘men’s recovery house’. I was humbled to photograph their prayer and study sessions. To see how their lives have been transformed from a life of drugs and crime to a real belonging with faith.

“The boxers at Salford Lads Club are also a perfect example of a continuing community where former boxers and sports coaches pass on their skills to the kids. I was touched at how much respect there was between young and old.”

Common Ground is the third in a series of exhibitions and creative conversations taking place over the next three years in Manchester as part of A Belonging Project. The venture is a collaboration between curator Lesley Sutton of Passion Art, Micah Purnell, and the Centre for Theology and Justice, which hopes to consider a range of issues related to social justice.

Maggie Thatcher 1988 © Howard Barlow

Maggie Thatcher 1988 © Howard Barlow

Manchester IRA Bombing 1996 © Howard Barlow

Manchester IRA Bombing 1996 © Howard Barlow

Manchester Air Crash 1985 in which 55 people lost their lives © Howard Barlow

Manchester Air Crash 1985 in which 55 people lost their lives © Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

© Howard Barlow

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Author:

Katy Cowan

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