Soho Archives and Soho Nights were commissioned by the Photographers Gallery as part of their commemoration of the gallery’s links with the area. It arose from Val Williams and Bob Pullen’s interest in the photographs of Jean Straker, photographer of erotica in 1950s Soho. This part of the exhibition involved extensive research in the Straker archive at the National Media Museum. Donated by the Straker family, Williams and Pullen were the first researchers to investigate it and to bring Straker’s work back into the public arena. The curators also worked with the David Hurn archive and the Daily Herald Archive.
The second exhibition, Soho Nights, was the result of research into the work of Ken Russell and the photographers of Picture Post. It explored the ways in which documentary photographers had explored the nocturnal life of Soho in the 1950s and 60s.
The research led to the development of a publication proposal by Williams and Pullen, and this work is ongoing.