These hard-hitting, powerful images were all taken by Nick Hedges between 1968 and 1972, as a commission for housing charity Shelter to illustrate the lives of people for whom poor housing conditions like the ones shown were a reality.
A new exhibition at the Science Museum’s Media Space will show 100 of the 1000 images captured by Hedges during his three years travelling and photographically documenting deprived areas in the UK, creating a disquieting narrative about problems that are sadly just as relevant now as they were over 30 years ago.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, says: “Nick’s pictures were crucial to the early days of Shelter’s campaigning, capturing a stark reality that many people in Britain couldn’t even imagine, let alone believe was happening in their community.”
He adds: “It’s nearly fifty years since these pictures were taken and the Shelter journey began; I truly hope in another fifty years our journey will have long been completed and that bad housing and homelessness will be a thing of the past, rather than a challenge for our future.”
Until this show, the images’ use has been restrict in order to protect the privacy of the people pictured in the images.
Hedges says: “Although these photographs have become historical documents, they serve to remind us that secure and adequate housing is the basis of a civilised urban society.
“The failure of successive governments to provide for it is a sad mark of society’s inaction. The photographs should allow us to celebrate progress, yet all they can do is haunt us with a sense of failure.”
Make Life Worth Living: Nick Hedges’ Photographs for Shelter, 1968-72 is on show in the Virgin Media Studio, Media Space, Science Museum London from 2 October 2014 – 18 January 2015.