See what develops

Lockdown gave Robert Broad the chance to spend some time in the darkroom and pull together a modern history of Wakefield in photography

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Write what you know, they say, and for Robert Broad it was the same with photography.

He began in 1984, primarily as a hobby.

“I just shot the things that were around me – pictures of my family and my friends alongside the area where I happened to be living at the time,” he says of his early work in Wakefield.

It became more serious for him following a City & Guilds photography course and a photo essay assignment that he based in the village of Outwood, two miles north of the city centre.

“My fascination and interest with old buildings, dereliction and the uncertainty of change to the urban landscape of Wakefield stemmed from this period. I would wander aimlessly around the area taking pictures of back-to-back housing, disused mills and so on.”

The photos he has on display at the Art House’s Tiled Gallery in Wakefield depict a momentous process of deindustrialisation, demolition and regeneration – one Broad felt was important to capture as a matter of record rather than for nostalgia. But they only cohered into a whole during the pandemic.

“During lockdown, like many of us, I found myself with a fair amount of free time on my hands.

I used some of that time to revisit my archive and select images I had previously overlooked, and it’s these images that I have presented here for this exhibition.”

Robert Broad: My North is at the Tiled Gallery, Art House, Wakefield until 15 May

Bus station, 1998. The woman with the pram and two children caught my eye as I was walking around. The composition of the children seemed to work
Back Street, Stanley, 1992. This is the earliest photograph in the exhibition, taken while out walking with my camera. It had been foggy the night before and some of it was still in the air the following morning, which created a nice atmospheric image that reminded me of a scene from a film from the 1960s
All the photographs in the bus station were taken at the same time as I was there recording the everyday life of people coming and going. I heard it was going to be demolished so I was recording the area
Mary and Don, April 1998. When I left home, I used to visit my parents regularly and I would take my camera with me and photograph what interested me. On this particular day I called in they were having their dinner from Tony’s, the local chip shop, and I took a couple of pictures while we were chatting. This is my favourite one from that day

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