Photographer profile - Martin Jenkinson
- Credit: Martin Jenkinson Image Library
We often showcase the work of exceptional artists and photographers. This month we feature the work of photojournalist Martin Jenkinson whose first retrospective exhibition has opened at a South Yorkshire museum.
Sheffield-based photojournalist Martin Jenkinson (1947–2012) chronicled the drama and detail of everyday life for over four decades. An exhibition at Weston Park Museum celebrates is career with a major retrospective of his work called Who We Are: Photographs by Martin Jenkinson, which brings together over 80 of his most compelling images.
During the 1980s, Martin Jenkinson became known for his memorable photographs of British protests which were widely published in the national press and Trade Union journals. While these images became a familiar presence in publications both national and local, Jenkinson’s wider work was no less powerful. Each of the photographs he created, including many of Sheffield and its people, offer a candid insight into community life.
Jenkinson moved from London, where he was born, to Sheffield in 1976, initially working in the city’s steel industry. After being made redundant in 1979, his career took a different turn; a placement with the local community newspaper, The Woodpecker, revealed a gift for photography and within a year he had begun to establish himself as a freelance photographer.
His strong sense of social justice, fairness and equality are evident in the subjects he gravitated towards and the images he created. Jenkinson was the official photographer on the 1981 People’s March for Jobs and was regularly commissioned by the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Union of Teachers among many other unions.
Jenkinson was the official Yorkshire Area NUM photographer during the 1984-85 miner’s strike, with his images, including the arrest of Arthur Scargill and launch of the Women Against Pit Closures movement, becoming a mainstay in both broadsheet and tabloid coverage. Who We Are includes highlights of Jenkinson’s most recognisable protest images, including his most well-known photograph, a miner wearing a toy policeman’s hat taken in 1984 during strike action at the nearby Orgreave coking plant.
The exhibition also features a range of Jenkinson’s images of everyday life in his adopted home city. His photographs of Sheffield present an often moving, sometimes humorous portrait of the city and its people. They document Sheffield’s industry and those who worked in it, its landscapes, or the familiar faces that have given it its character over the years. Among the images in the exhibition is a portrait of Maxine Duffat, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport’s first black woman bus driver; an image of the lost city landmark the Hole in the Road and a photograph of 1,500 people queuing to apply for 50 jobs at a new Sheffield restaurant in 1983.
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The images in this exhibition have been selected in partnership with his daughter, Justine, who now manages his sizeable photographic archive.
Justine Jenkinson said: ‘We are really grateful for this opportunity for Martin’s work to be recognised. While including some of his best-known and most acclaimed photographs from his industrial and political archive, the exhibition also demonstrates other important aspects of his work. These images show the breadth of Martin’s interest in people and depict their everyday lives in photographs that are moving, imaginative and artistic.’
Louisa Briggs, exhibitions and display curator at Museums Sheffield, added:
‘Martin Jenkinson had an extraordinary ability to convey the inherent humanity in the subjects he covered. His images are both a powerful document of the events that have shaped us and a moving reminder of the experiences that we each have in common. We’re hugely grateful to Martin’s family for allowing us the opportunity to create this exhibition, the first major retrospective of his work, at Weston Park Museum.’
Who We Are: Photographs by Martin Jenkinson runs until April 14th 2019 and entry to the exhibition is free.