The Deep End: Photography exhibition at Victoria Baths

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By Emma Greensill

Lead by photography students, The Deep End was an exhibition inspired by the history and architecture of the listed Edwardian swimming pool and Turkish bath complex, Victoria Baths.

The exhibition was put on by seven students, displaying photographs taken as part of a Manchester Met project based on Victoria Baths. All seven students came up with different themes and names for their individual work to depict the building’s ideologies and past. 

When it opened in 1906, the Manchester Victoria Baths was described as ‘the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country […] a water palace of which every citizen of Manchester can be proud’. Not only did the building provide spacious facilities for swimming, bathing, and leisure, but it was also built from the highest quality materials, with period decorative features such as stained glass, terracotta, tiles and mosaic floors.

Georgia Carabine’s collection Fourth Dimensions focused on the apartment above the swimming pools. This area of the building is derelict and not accessible to the public. Carabine looked at the shadows and effects that the stain glass makes due to the lighting from the windows.

Hannah Cleary called her photos Erased. Her work showed some of the most neglected parts of the building, including the apartment upstairs. She wanted to show what it looks like now. She placed the finished photographs into bleach to partly destroy them, further portraying the notion of neglect.

Amber Sunderland created Infringement. Her images represented empowerment in a once male-dominated location. The lighting, positioning and composition of her photographs present a female God-like figure. A 21st century female being in the different areas within these baths implied a sense of freedom, as this contrasts with the history of the sex segregation that was once present.

Mary Zavou named her work Part of the Space. She explores the relationship between memory, place, body, femininity and the Victoria Baths itself. She placed a model in deserted spaces to create a feel for what it was like when the area thrived, whilst also creating work that links the architecture, history and the human form.

Caleb Kane’s collection was Concealed, exploring the oppression of identity through the inevitable aging that occurs over time, as he showcased the attempts made to strip the defining aspects of architecture in the building.

Kelvin Leeming called his photos Discarded. Leeming photographed the accumulation of litter in Salford Quays and how so much discarded waste now obscures the surface of water, essentially showing how Victoria Baths has been discarded.

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