Bert Hardy was born in London and worked his way from being a lab assistant to a photographer. He is very well known for his pictures of the slums in London and Glasgow; but also for his work of the second world war in Korea.
I was after the war when he started to document the streets working in such areas as Elephant and Castle in London. His images from around this time are very famous and he is know for photographing people,
''Making the most of what life had offered them because human joy can shine through even the most dire poverty''.
Similar to Jane Bown in his thinking, Bert was of the view that, you don't need an expensive camera to take good pictures. To show this Bert once staged a photograph of two young women sitting on the railings above a breezy Blackpool promenade, he took this photo using a Box Brownie.
|Bert Hardy - Blackpool 1951|
Bert Hardy was chief photographer with Picture Post magazine in the 1940's and 50's.
Fellow photographer David Baily once said: -
''Not only is Bert historically very important to British photography, but without doubt there should be a plaque in his honor''
A plaque was indeed put up above his birthplace in 2008! Being another photographer I admire I will look at the portrait work of David Baily later in my research.
“I was looking for Blackfriars Street, and a meeting I never found … I walked down many streets, all stony and treeless, between the two-storey houses that look painfully alike. In all the windows were shabby lace curtains, and against the light you could see from time to time a man or woman silhouetted, bent over a washbowl, or stretching and yawning, ready for sleep after a hard day.”
Above is an extract from The Lord will Provide for England by Martha Gellhorn, Colliers, 1938.
Bert photographed a lot around this area and I like it gives the reader a really image of the sort of things that he would have seen around the time. I am going to look at a few of these images: -
|Bert Hardy - Elephant and Castle, South London, 1949|
A really nice example of what I mentioned when looking at photography techniques in a earlier post. Dramatic contrast in colours gives this photograph a very hard hitting edge. The focal point being the street scene in the background it is only when you look at the picture a little closer that you notice the couple under the bridge. Dark silhouettes and a dull sky give the impression of a dreary day in South London!
|Bert Hardy - Home in Southwark, 1949, Elephant and Castle|
A stark but merry image of a typical house at the time. Just like in his quote above, Bert is showing a classic example here of people ''making the most of what life had offed them''. A small boy reads the newspaper while his mother opens a tin of food. Nice lines and tones shown in this image on perhaps a sunnier day, nice shadows in and around the room from light perhaps from a nearby window?
|Bert Hardy - Down the Bay, Picture Post 1950|
Taken in an area of Cardiff known as Tiger Bay, at the time Somali, West African, West Indian and Greek families made up its population. The community was marked off from the rest of the city by social barriers. This photograph has a lot of lovely tones and areas of light. The vanishing point of the image draws the viewer in and down the wet street. Reflections of light from the dreary sky. Among this street street is the small boy at the forefront of the image, leaning on the wall. He look so small and innocent in comparison to the towering houses above him. Very representative of the area at that time. Segregated off from the rest of the community because of who he is. Very telling of the time this photograph was taken.
Tiger Bay - Cardiff's dockland district - is Wales' oldest multi-ethnic community. Sailors and workers from over 50 countries settled here.
Some of the largest communities included the Somalis, the Yeminis and Greeks. Residents of many races and backgrounds socialised together and intermarried, creating a distinct community.
Tiger Bay was also notorious. A slice of red-light district and gambling dens between Cardiff's city centre and its docks, and home to a rich mix of multi-racial communities, it had a powerful character of its own. Its most famous former residents are former rugby star Billy Boston and singer Shirley Bassey, who were both born in Tiger Bay.
The 1960s saw the wholesale destruction of large areas of the Bay and displacement of the community.
The 1970s and 80s saw a new influx of refugees from conflicts around the world, and the 90s saw the birth of the renewal of the area as a leisure and business hot-spot and the founding of the National Assembly for Wales.
Today, the Cardiff docklands area is known as Cardiff Bay and it has been transformed by the Cardiff Barrage that impounds the Rivers Taff and the Ely to create a massive fresh-water lake.
SOURCE: - WWW.BBC.CO.UK/WALES/HISTORY
|Bert Hardy - Neighbours 1950's|
|Bert Hardy - PE lessons in a Birmingham school, 1954|
I will try and take some of Burt's ideas and techniques into my own work. Although I will be using my Sony Camera to take my pictures, I may also try a few shots using a Box Brownie I have acquired from my Grandad. I would like to try and re create some of the magic in Burt's photos and hopefully I can use so of the same techniques to gain a similar effect.