Veteran photographer's new exhibition offers unique perspective on region's social changes - The Rugby Observer

Veteran photographer's new exhibition offers unique perspective on region's social changes

Andy Morris 8th Aug, 2017   0

‘THE SAME planet, but a different world’ – that is the view offered by a local photographer’s new exhibition which documents how the area has changed since the ‘Baby Boomer’ era.

Tony Baker’s work will be showcased at Yesterday is the new Tomorrow, an exhibition featuring his urban photography from the 1960s to the present day.

Having been snapping the Rugby and Coventry area for over 40 years, he has developed a unique perspective which he decided to share.

He said: “With many local images from the 60s in the exhibition, anyone out and about in the area during the Baby Boomer years might just recognise themselves in one or two shots.”

Tony studied photography at Coventry’s Art College, and most of his early photos were shot in and around the midlands.

During his four decades behind the lens, he has established a photography business, worked as official photographer for the Belgrade Theatre’s pioneering Theatre in Education movement, and taken to the skies to see the region from a different angle.

He said: “There have been many memorable photo shoots over the years, but aerial photography was one area which always stood out for me.

“In the 60s my aerial work began with a shoot of the Ryton car plant in Coventry. After that, aerial photography literally took off.

“Early work was from aircraft but eventually it was all shot from helicopters. It was always interesting and exhilarating.

“I was also kept busy and entertained throughout the 60s and 70s after I became the photographer for the Belgrade’s Theatre in Education movement. There was never a dull moment, with coverage of theatre, school and outdoor productions, plus many a madcap photo call for the production team itself.”

After moving his business to Rugby during the early 90s, he has recently cleared out “the time-capsule known as the garage” for the first time in 30 years, rediscovering long lost negatives from the 60s.

The unearthed photos began to form a narrative – inspiring him to write his recent book It’s Not Quite How I Pictured It, and forming the basis of the new exhibition.

He said: “For me, dramatic social changes and loss of manufacturing in the UK – and especially the Midlands – sums up much of the changes since I took up photography in the 60s.

“Back then it felt safe to go almost anywhere and take close, often edgy shots – and I did.

“Sadly this is not always so true today, and as a result my urban photography has quietly changed emphasis. This can be seen at the exhibition, where raw vintage black and white images contrast with more graphic modern-day urban shots.

“I think elements of five decades of social change will come across to anyone who visits the exhibition. You’ll see photos from the same planet – but a different world.”

Yesterday is the new Tomorrow takes place at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum’s Floor One Gallery on August 12-24.


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