Through the lens: Were you there? ‘Young people looking for love’ in 80s’ Manchester on show at Cornerhouse

By Scott Hunt 

Moments of Manchester’s nightlife from 30 or 40 years ago is being displayed in a unique exhibition launching at Cornerhouse tonight.

The iconic images of ‘young people looking for love’ in 1970s’ and 1980s’ Manchester have been put together by photographer David Chadwick.

David captured images of the Manchester night scene when it was a fraction of the size it is today. The exhibition offers an insight into the time and the sub-cultures of the day.

“In those days, sub-cultures like punks and New Romantics invented their own style,” David said.

“Unlike today it filtered upwards into mainstream fashion and music.”

The images in the new exhibition had been under David’s bed for over 30 years before he approached Cornerhouse with the idea of exhibiting them.

They capture ‘young people looking for love’ in clubs including Legend, The Sandpiper’s and Friday’s.

Cornerhouse launched an appeal to try and track down some of the people captured in David’s photographs.

PUNK MANCHESTER: ‘We Were All Here, Once’ exhibition comes to Cornerhouse

Two of his most striking subjects, Paula Hilton and Karen Bentley were successfully found.

David’s ‘Girl in a Discotheque’ image of Paula Hilton appeared in Cornerhouse’s very first exhibition ‘Human Interest’ in 1985 as well as the first edition of their brochure.

David said: “When Cornerhouse opened it filled a huge cultural gap by representing the here and now.

“I was thrilled to have my work included in its first exhibition.

“It seems absolutely fitting to revisit these images here now and re-connect some of the young people with their images from the past.”

Paula Hilton, pictured in Fallowfield’s Sandpiper club, was a regular on the Manchester club scene throughout the 1980s and had also won beauty contests.

HISTORY CAPTURED: Girl in a Discotheque by David Chadwick

Another subject of David’s photos was Karen Bentley. Karen was a key figure in David’s ‘punks’ picture which was taken at Belle Vue’s Mayflower club.

The club, which burnt down in the early 1980s’ hosted lots of punk nights including afternoon gigs for under-18s.

Karen from Urmston was a regular at Mayflower and frequently attended gigs by the likes of The Damned and The Clash.

She appeared in The Sun newspaper in 1981 for going to work at Norweb in punk gear.

It is this kind of history that the exhibition highlights. David’s images offer a snapshot of an era.

Displaying affordable North West art, Cornerhouse will showcase the rarely seen photographs taken in the 1970s and 1980s.

Based in Didsbury, David trained at Manchester School of Art in the mid 1970s.

During that time, David also worked as an assistant to fashion photographer Roger Alexander.

He worked as an artistic photographer for eight years while also lecturing at Blackburn College.

David became a staff photographer on the magazine Manchester Flash in the 1980s, making a living from photography for almost 20 years.

He will be at the launch along with exhibition curator Tomas Harold.

All of the images will be available to buy, including 100 copies of a signed, numbered print of ‘Girl in a Discotheque’.

The exhibition begins on Thursday October 3 and will run until November 5. An informal launch will take place at 5.30pm on Thursday in Cornerhouse bar.

Picture courtesy of David Chadwick, with thanks.

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