It's like he's never been away

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man standing by framed photo on the wall

Ian Boland with Paul Trevor's photo of him and his friend in the kids' den

Imagine what it feels like. It’s Liverpool in the mid 1970s and you and your mates are still in school. A photographer moves into the area for a few months on his first job away from London to get some pictures of the area. You’re curious about this strange man with a camera and over the months you and your community get to know and trust him, so much so that you invite him into the ‘kids’ den’ – an empty garage where you sit on old car seats and listen to records with your mates.

Over 30 years later you are invited to the Walker Art Gallery to see an exhibition featuring photographs of your old childhood friends and haunts taken by that stranger from London – who in the intervening years has become a successful photographer. Your name, your photograph and pictures of your friends are adorning the walls where great works of art, from Old Masters to the contemporary stars of the John Moores competition have previously hung.

It must be quite a lot to take in.

This is what happened to Ian Boland yesterday, when he was one of the first people to see Paul Trevor’s Look11 exhibition at the Walker, Like you’ve never been away. Ian was a key factor in kickstarting the idea for the exhibition, as he got in touch with Paul Trevor a few years ago to ask what had happened to his photographs from his time in Liverpool. Some of the photographs had been published in the book 'Survival Programmes' but most of them had never been seen by the public.

The two exchanged many emails and slowly started identifying the people in Paul’s pictures. This grew into the exhibition and a larger – and still ongoing – re-engagement project. Paul has tracked down many of the people by posting his Liverpool 1975 photos on Flickr, then found more through community events in Everton and Granby in summer 2010.

Ian’s part in the process is acknowledged with quotes in the exhibition. You can see Ian and others having a preview of their pictures in the Like you’ve never been away set on Flickr. Do come and see the exhibition yourself, which is open 6.30-10pm tonight for Light Night and continues until 25 September.