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The images were taken by Sir Don McCullin, one of Britain’s most celebrated photographers, who is best known for his photographs documenting war, famine and displacement around the world.
A friend of the Mersey Poets; Roger McGough, Adrien Henri and Brian Patten, he was a frequent visitor to Liverpool and other northern towns and cities during the 1960s and 1970s. The images McCullin took, depicting life and industrial scenes of the time, make up a fascinating part of the current Tate Liverpool exhibition.
A small number of McCullin’s photographs of Liverpool featured in the 84-year-old’s acclaimed Tate Britain exhibition last year, but for this new exhibition the legendary photographer felt he should add to them.
He went back to his original negatives and printed a series of pictures taken in the city that had never been viewed before now. The photographs capture people who he describes as “incredibly poor but incredibly proud” against a backdrop of slum clearance and derelict bomb sites. He explained that he felt an affinity for them because of his own childhood experience, growing up in a damp two-room basement flat in London in the 1940s.
McCullin’s remarkable collection documenting Liverpool features among more than 200 photographs now on display at Tate Liverpool.
Taken over the last 60 years, they span McCullin’s career as one of the world’s leading photographers of conflict working in countries such as Vietnam (where his Nikon camera which features in the show took a bullet for him), Cambodia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iraq, and Northern Ireland at the time of the Troubles.
The exhibition is moving, shocking and compelling – visitors are advised that it includes images of conflict and poverty, showing dead bodies and people suffering extreme conditions including starvation.
Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool runs until May 9, 2021. It is open daily from 10am to 6pm and Covid safety guidelines apply including carefully managed numbers in galleries, one-way routes and social distancing. Visitors are asked to wear a mask unless exempt and book timed tickets in advance via the website tate.org.uk
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