In 1972, while studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic, Daniel Meadows took over a disused shop in Moss Side’s Graeme Street and turned it into a ‘free photography studio’. Shooting people for nothing, and sending them their portraits or putting the prints in the shop window, Meadows was able to keep going for eight weeks before he ran out of money.
Troubled by the fact that those whose images were in the shop window could no longer see the photographs, he laid out the remaining prints on wooden boards and nailed them to trees in the local park. He later realised this had been his first exhibition.
Meadows is now an acclaimed photographer, given a major retrospective in 2011/12 that went on show in the National Media Museum before touring the UK, but he’s also remained a fan of local exhibitions. In 1977 he put on a show in the Nelson Arndale Centre, a shopping mall 30 miles from Manchester, for example, while in 2017 he showed prints in a church hall in Miles Platting, a Manchester neighbourhood.
Now his work is going on show in Manchester Central Library, alongside work shot in northern England by Chris Harrison, Ian MacDonald, Paul Floyd Blake, Tessa Bunney, Liza Dracup, Phoebe Kiely, and Matthew Murray. Hit the North! – which takes its name from a song by celebrated Manchester band The Fall – covers a range of subjects taken over five decades, but all shot in the north by photographers with a lasting connection to the region.
Harrison was born and brought up in the North East, for example, leaving school at 15 to become an apprentice in a local shipyard, and going on to join the army. He’s showing Under the Hood, a series of images of young men from Salford shot in 1994.
Phoebe Kiely, meanwhile, is based in Salford and graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2015; she has already won acclaim in awards such as the Paul Huf and the First Book Award with her hand-printed analogue photographs. She’s showing images from her series, They Were My Landscape, which will be published by Mack Books later this year.
Hit the North has been organised by Hobo Photo, which is also based in Manchester. It’s on show from 19 April – 30 June, First Floor, Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, Manchester www.hobophoto.co.uk