THE work of an award-winning Greenfield photographer for over 40 years is featured in a special exhibition.

Ian Beesley, who was Gallery Oldham’s artist-in-residence from 2014-2020, is showing his retrospective exhibition ‘Life’ at Salts Mill in Saltaire until the end of October.

Edited from his archive of more than 60,000 images, the exhibition includes several of his well-known images but also a wide selection of previously unseen works.

Ian Beesley Life Exhibition

It includes street life, working life, sporting life, rural life, and the life of people and communities primarily in the North of England.

Much of his early work documents an industrial society that no longer exists, from the tight terraced streets of city centers to the bustling interiors of mills and factories.

It traces the closure of many basic heavy industries such as mining, iron and steel production and is an important record of the cultural and industrial heritage of the North.

In recent years his work has focused on the health and well-being created by his appointment as artist-in-residence for a number of important medical research projects such as the Bradford Institute’s Born in Bradford project for Health Research, the University of Bristol’s Aging Research Project and, more recently, the University of Exeter’s IDEAL and ENLIVEN projects studying the effects of dementia.


Ian, who has lived in Greenfield since 2000, was born in Bradford and worked in a mill, foundry and the local sewage works before going to Bradford Art College and then Bournemouth and Poole College of Art.

After graduating, he was awarded a Kodak Fellowship for Social Literature and began his lifelong study of the demise of northern industrial society and its impact on communities.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Milan Italy Photo Festival, Shengyang China International Industrial Photography Festival, Imperial War Museum London, National Media Museum Bradford, Smithsonian Institute Washington and the National Wakefield Coal Mine Museum.

His work is held in the collections of the People’s History Museum Manchester, the Royal Photographic Society, the National Media Museum Bradford, the Smithsonian Institute USA, the National Museum of Labor History Helsinki, the Gallery Oldham and the Imperial War Museum.

In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society and in 2019 an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bradford for his significant contribution to the artistic, cultural and social welfare of the city of Bradford.

Find out more about the exhibition online: https://saltsmill.org.uk/#history

• Visit Ian Beesley’s ‘Life’ exhibition on the roof of Salts Mill Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 4pm until the end of October. Free entry.

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