The Shelter photographs 1968-1972: Nick Hedges, the representation of the homeless child and a photographic archive

Hall, Alison (2016). The Shelter photographs 1968-1972: Nick Hedges, the representation of the homeless child and a photographic archive. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The thesis examines the work of photographer Nick Hedges (b. 1943) who made photographs for the housing charity Shelter between 1968 and 1972. It concentrates on Hedges’ methodology, his representation of the homeless child, and how this was deployed in Shelter’s campaign strategy. Moreover, it examines the wider political, sociological and cultural debates surrounding the conception, production, dissemination and reception of the Shelter photographs. The thesis argues that Hedges’ photographs, although contextualised by an ostensibly radical charity agenda, were shaped by an established photographic and art historical tradition reaching back to the nineteenth century. This is examined in the light of a shifting conception of what constituted an ethically sound representation of homelessness amongst leftist critics in Britain from the 1970s onwards. The thesis equally discusses the archive as a site of photographic accession, interpretation and display, and outlines the issues that face archive professionals charged with the presentation of the Shelter photographs to a contemporary audience. By combining art historical analysis of Hedges’ photographs with research into their current framing in the archive, the thesis offers a distinctive contribution to scholarship. It explores how photographic meaning is shaped, subverted and disseminated by individuals, organisations and institutions alike.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
T Technology > TR Photography


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