Living Apart: photographs of apartheid by Ian Berry is the latest in a strong and varied programme of exhibitions at the International Slavery Museum. It's the venue's second offering for the Look11 photography festival, providing a thought provoking counterpart to the insightful and uplifting '42' Women of Sierra Leone, which opened last month. It's also the International Slavery Museum's largest ever exhibition - with almost 100 photographs to fit in it has taken over the Maritime Museum's usual exhibition space on the floor below.
Magnum photographer Ian Berry opened the exhibition yesterday evening with a great talk about the changes he had seen over 40 turbulent years of South Africa's history. He finished on a positive note describing a scene he photographed on what was designated a 'whites-only' beach at the time. He spotted two Black youths venture onto the beach and when a white couple approached was sure that there would be trouble. However when they walked by without incident this gave him hope that the years of segregation could soon be over.
It is almost impossible to imagine life under apartheid, with the freedom and rights - that we feel should be taken for granted - denied to so many for so long. The exhibition has some shocking images, as well as many quiet moments of human dignity that are quite moving.
Ian Berry was born in Preston, and joked that he was proud to be exhibiting in a city that was once part of the same county of Lancashire, making this almost a homecoming for him. These local ties must be strong as he will be returning to the International Slavery Museum for an 'In conversation' event on Friday 3 June at 5.30pm. Tickets for this free event are bound to go quickly so make sure you book one soon - full details are on the website.