Tish Murtha: Works 1976-1991 at The Photographers Gallery
This month sees ‘Tish Murtha: Works 1976 – 1991’ exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, London. This unique exhibition, which charts the remarkable accomplishments of documentary photographer Tish Murtha, also offers a tender and frank perspective on a historic moment of social deprivation and instability in Britain.
In 1976, aged 20, Tish Murtha left Newcastle upon Tyne to study at the influential School of Documentary Photography at Newport College of Art under the guidance of Magnum photographer David Hurn. The earliest series in this show, Newport Pub, dates from this period – where Murtha photographed the realities of everyday life for the regulars of a typical public house, ‘The New Found Out’ in a deprived area.
Murtha felt a genuine sense of obligation to the communities of her home in the North East and had chosen a course of study which would make her a more effective photographer, one who could highlight the social disadvantages that she herself had suffered.
To honour Murtha’s ethos the exhibition, co-curated by Val Williams and Gordon MacDonald, with Karen McQuaid, surveys six major bodies of work; Newport Pub (1976/78); Elswick Kids (1978); Juvenile Jazz Bands (1979); Youth Unemployment (1980); London by Night (1983) and Elswick Revisited (1987 – 1991) using both vintage and contemporary prints. In addition, the exhibition will also include personal letters and ephemeral material from the Tish Murtha Archive.
Metro Imaging have had the privilege of working with Tish’s daughter Ella Murtha over the past year, initially digitising part of the archive and then printing for this retrospective show. Ella chose silver gelatin black and white fibre prints to emulate and reference her mother’s way of working.
‘Tish Murtha: Works 1976 – 1991’ will open at The Photographers’ Gallery on June 15th alongside Alex Prager: Silver Lake Drive, a mid-career survey of American photographer and filmmaker, Alex Prager.
IMAGES © Tish Murtha Archive, with thanks to Ella Murtha