From Scargill to teachers protests: new Sheffield exhibition unveils Martin Jenkinson’s compelling work

First national women's rally in support of striking miners, Barnsley Civic Hall. 12 May 1984
First national women's rally in support of striking miners, Barnsley Civic Hall. 12 May 1984

For over four decades Sheffield-based photojournalist Martin Jenkinson chronicled the drama and detail of our everyday lives.

 This autumn, a new exhibition at Weston Park Museum is set to celebrate his remarkable career. Opening today, Who We Are: Photographs by Martin Jenkinson is the first major retrospective of Jenkinson’s work, bringing together over 80 of his most compelling images.

Superintendent John Nesbit arrests Arthur Scargill, NUM President at Orgreave during the 1984-85 miners strike 30 May 1984

Superintendent John Nesbit arrests Arthur Scargill, NUM President at Orgreave during the 1984-85 miners strike 30 May 1984

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, offered a candid insight into the communities we’re part of and the experiences we share.

Born in London, Jenkinson moved to Sheffield in 1976, initially working in the city’s steel industry. After being made redundant in 1979, Jenkinson’s career was to take 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 talented freelance photographer.

Jenkinson had a strong sense of social justice, fairness and equality, ideas that 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 amongst 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 will include 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 will also feature a range of Jenkinson’s affectionate, insightful images of everyday life in his adopted home city, presenting an often moving, sometimes humorous portrait of the city and its people.

Cutlery workers take a break, Sydney Street, Sheffield, 19 July 1983

Cutlery workers take a break, Sydney Street, Sheffield, 19 July 1983

The exhibition will run until April 14. Turn to pages 8/9 for more photos.