On Wednesday I go via my favorite form of public Transport (the Train) to Hereford. Now other than cows and a late goal by Ronnie Radford in the 1972 FA Cup at Home to Newcastle. I know little of the place. I have missed The Hereford Photographic exhibition over the past few years as I have been at Paris Photo. On seeing that John Bulmer was one of the attractions this year I decided to drag my grumpy soul to see his work in the flesh. I have looked at his body of work in Manchester.
Robert Adams writes in Why people Photograph ” At our best and most Fortunate we make pictures because of what stands in front of the Camera, to honor what is more greater or interesting than we are. We never accomplish this perfectly though in return we are given something perfect- a sense of inclusion. Our subject thus redefines us and is part of the biography by which we want to be known”.
John Bulmer he was around the same time as Don McCullin. He was famed for his colour slide work a pioneer of that time for using the medium of colour. If the newspapers need something document they would either get Bulmer or McCullin. John Bulmer really catches the change in Brittain with many areas still pulling them self from the legacy of the second world war.
Despite the bleakness of this image I still feel it has a positive direction to it. The man in the image we do not where he is going or has been. The mist that shrouds the image. The large empty space the gentleman walks through could be the same route he has taken to a family’s house or work for years. Refusing to use the modern modes of transport. However it touches on a post apocalyptic feel
Changing the image to black and white alters the feel and the impact the photo posses. It seem to flatten the picture with less impact
This maybe the other direction on the same street as the previous image. We feel the pub is the only business that can survive in the area. the Broadway sign on the pub makes draws on the importance of the name of the theatre area in New York. This the Northern Broadway where the pub is the pivot point of society. The Cobbled streets show use detail of the age of the area and a possible clue as to why the homes have been removed due to the old age. The street with the two young boys in leads you in to the mist and the unknown of the what lies ahead. With prospects not being clear for the future of the area.
So much information in this picture. I see it first as being a metaphor of empty space. The old man is detached from the area he is on he is no longer connected to any of the signs in the image. At one time he may have been a jeweller. The number makes you think of age and at 21 the old man may have been involved with sport. The way his foot is raised it make me think that he could have been a footballer. Maybe the football image comes from the fact we only its location on hand as Manchester to deal with. The way the foot point at the entrance makes you intrigued at to what is going on outside of the composition on the image. the old man being dressed in gray sat on the bin is a negative slant of the image. Although the sign age dated with modern-day standards this was probably a well to do area. although we do depict it as being on the edge of city industrial area.
This image again I see as depicting an empty space that all the young people have to live off and express themselves with in the area is given before us in the image. The blue and white image makes you think you are in area close to the Manchester city ground. The images take on the modern feel of lowery’s work
The similarities of the picture are uncanny. The people have almost the same stance
John Bulmer use of space to capture economic isolation in his series of images in Manchester is a powerful Body of work. I have found them really empowering to look. It makes me feel that what I’m doing is right. As I commented his use of colour slide film adds a real grit to the work. Almost like these are the real colours off life and it was that grim. Excellent document of a forgotten less complicated period in time.
The Robert Adams quote shows that Bulmer without displaying his local Knowledge has a connection to the area. Maybe as a child the matched identical street where faceless to him. Now he sees it being of interest to the masses
I look forward to seeing his work