The Horrors Of Poor Housing Makes For Difficult Viewing

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 46 months ago
The Horrors Of Poor Housing Makes For Difficult Viewing ★★★★☆ 4
Birmingham Balsall Heath, June 1969 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Birmingham Balsall Heath, June 1969 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Birmingham, January 1969 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Birmingham, January 1969 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Sheffield, May 1969 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Sheffield, May 1969 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Leeds, West Yorkshire, July 1970 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Leeds, West Yorkshire, July 1970 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Liverpool 8, July 1971 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Liverpool 8, July 1971 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Birmingham Duddleston, August 1970 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford
Birmingham Duddleston, August 1970 © Nick Hedges / National Media Museum, Bradford

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

The difference in living standards between the rich and those in poverty is a long standing issue, and this collection of photographs from across the UK between 1968 and 1972 demonstrates the point in an eye opening and often harrowing exhibition.

Nick Hedges was commissioned by the housing charity Shelter to photograph unfit living conditions, and this extensive collection highlights how families had to live in homes that are clearly not suitable for habitation.

A child is bathed in the kitchen of a Hackney flat which has no bathroom, while in another photograph a child looks angelic as she is silhouetted in the light from a window while aged wallpaper peels in the background.

Some of the photographs can be hard to stomach, including a girl with sores on her face caused by an infection she picked up from sewage seeping into the courtyard of her home. Another young girl stands in a Glasgow stairwell whose crumbling walls seem more suited to a war zone.

When Hedges introduced the exhibition he was keen to stress that though living conditions have thankfully improved since then, the issue of inadequate housing is still prevalent today.

This is a hard hitting exhibition and a powerful reminder of the living conditions some families in the UK had to endure at the time when man was first stepping foot on the moon.

The Science Museum's new media space has been set up in collaboration with the National Media Museum in Bradford, and in only a year it has put on some excellent photography exhibitions including the ongoing, and surreal, Joan Fontcuberta exhibition which we highly recommend. When we've visited in the past, the only thing lacking has been people and we're hoping the presence of another high quality exhibition may increase visitor numbers to this impressive media space.

Make Life Worth Living: Nick Hedges' Photographs for Shelter, 1968-72 is on at the Virgin Media Studio, Media Space, Science Museum and has been extended to 1 March 2015. Admission is free.

For more great art to see in London, visit our October listings.

Last Updated 06 October 2014