A large selection of prints from Gideon Mendel’s groundbreaking exhibition of 1993, The Ward, revisited Bradford this week. I wanted to re-aquaint myself with the collection, which was displayed simply but ingeniously (these large prints mounted on acrylic were not allowed to be fixed to the wall). I remember many of the images from first time round.
The ward in question was actually two wards where patients with HIV and AIDS were cared for. at London’s Middlesex Hospital. Mendel’s photo-essay gave a human face to the AIDS crisis, when fear, stigma and hatred towards people living with HIV / AIDS was rife and viscious. These images marked a turning point in terms of empathy – amongst many people, at least. They are still powerful and beautiful today.
The photos had been shown at Bradford in the 1990s at the National Media Museum. At that time I was active in the Leeds chapter of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), who carried out protest and direct action around discrimination and poor healthcare affecting people living with HIV/AIDS.
Accompanying the exhibition was a selection from the archives of Bradford’s gay liberation movement from the 1970s – 1990s. Especially impressive were the colourful screen-printed posters. The owners of the archive are hoping to get the collection accepted by a local archive, perhaps West Yorkshire Archives or Cartwright Hall (linking to their queering project, perhaps).
Great to see both parts of this exhibition at Bradford’s Gallery II – and to read about their move to become a Centre for Socially Applied Arts
Home via Kirkstall and lovely Aire Place Studios where Curl Up and Dye (everyone’s favourite named hair salon) by Bronagh Daly captures the importance of the hair salon to older Irish women – a place to gossip, get (and give) advice and support (pictured below).