02nd October 2019
Work of Tish Murtha can be seen on the website run by her daughter Ella Murtha. The website is tishmurtha.co.uk. I cannot include any images for this blog post as they are strictly with permission only (c) Ella Murtha.
Tish Murtha was a British documentary photographer, who documented the working-class life in Newcastle upon Tyne and the North East of England as a means of social and political comment.
I particularly like this type of photography as it is quite similar to street photography. It captures the raw grittiness of life and Murtha’s images show the struggles and daily life of the poorer communities.
I would find it difficult to produce such a series of work due to the fact that the subject matter is not easy to come by. I would definitely have to do my research and in todays society the nearest I could get would be the homeless and asylum seekers who are victims of modern society. Images would be similar to the one below taken in Glasgow from The guardian Website..
This Guardian report explains the statistics of poverty in the UK and the figures are horrific. So what images could I take if I knew specific areas to work in?
This article from The Mirror names (in their opinion) the twenty worst deprived places in England.
Top 20 most deprived places (The Mirror)
- Tendring – around St Osyth and Seawick
- Blackpool – By Central Pier
- Blackpool – Around the promenade near North Pier
- Thanet – Cliftonville West
- Blackpool – Near the South Pier
- Tendring – Clacton-on-Sea
- Blackpool – Between Waterloo Road and St Chad’s Station
- Coventry – Around Hillmorton Road in Henley
- Blackpool – Woolman Road and Clinton Avenue
- Waveney – near South Pier in Lowestoft
- Blackpool – around Cookson Street
- Kingston upon Hull – Around St John’s Grove
- North East Lincolnshire – Around Oxford Street in Grimsby
- Burnley – Around Tay Street and Howard Street
- Burnley – Between Belvedere Road and Church Street
- Mansfield – Around Sandy Lane
- Blackpool – Around Manchester Square and Rigby Road
- Blackpool – Around Clevedon Road and Carshalton Road
- Blackburn with Darwen – Wensley Fold
- Great Yarmouth – Along the seafront
I was quite bemused at this as no 10 is a 20 minute walk from me and no 20 is a 35 minute bus ride. The series I shot called, ‘Text-in and Dumping Around The X22 Bus Stop‘ is the only visual clue to the fact that it is a poor area. The Lowestoft highstreet has a few homeless who sit there during the day and that is about it as far as visual clues to the social issues and lack of funding Lowestoft has. There are many closed shops, some old and in need of repair, and more closing by the month but there is no comparison to Murtha’s images.
If we look at Murtha’s work on her website, I am in awe of the dramatic black and white images. They are powerful and have the details within that make the work exciting to see and an eye-opener to the social and political problems of the time. I also like how some of her work, especially portraits use contrast of shadows and light extremely well. This can be seen in two photographs both with the same title: ‘Youth Unemployment, 1981.’
My conclusion on looking and reading about Murtha’s work is that I would indeed have a passion in producing candid photographs, however Murtha immersed herself in the world she was documenting and got to know the environment and the people very well. I am not sure my anxiety as it is at the present could handle such an intense relationship between subject and photographer.