The Door Opened: 1980s China – Photographs by Adrian Bradshaw at Central Library

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Image courtesy of Manchester Central Library

The Door Opened: 1980s China - Photographs by Adrian Bradshaw at Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 26 January–26 April 2022, free entry - Visit now

Coinciding with Chinese New Year, Manchester’s Central Library is hosting a fascinating exhibition by British photojournalist Adrian Bradshaw, with a blend of candid and posed photographs revealing China in the 1980s.

In 1984, when Bradshaw was in his early twenties, he travelled to Beijing to study Mandarin. Little did he know that he would go on to spend three decades living in, experiencing and recording China as it underwent huge transformation. After having undergone years of political turmoil, the vast nation was just beginning to open its doors to the outside world by allowing Western tourists to come in, and Bradshaw was one of the first able to witness and document this change first hand.

When Bradshaw arrived in Beijing, the majority of China’s population then under 25, and it was largely their curiosity, their energy and their creativity that powered the changes now reverberating around the world: the artists, entrepreneurs, farmers and industrialists whose enthusiasm and positivity made things happen were, at the time Bradshaw’s pictures were taken, just beginning to sense the possibilities that lay at their feet.

The photographs on display at Central Library – a mere fraction of the two million that Bradshaw has taken in China – brings that sense of yearning into full focus, while also capturing the fleeting beauty and simplicity of everyday life, from sentimental family excursions to opulent fashion extravaganzas.

A fascinating glimpse into a time that made history, ‘The Door Opened: 1980’s China’ is well worth a visit this Chinese New Year.

The Door Opened: 1980s China - Photographs by Adrian Bradshaw at Manchester Central Library, Manchester

26 January–26 April 2022
Free entry

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
Cinema Until 29 September 2022, from £9.95

Crimes of the Future at HOME

Activity Until 30 September 2022, from £25.00

Canoeing and Kayaking on the Mersey

Families Until 1 October 2022, from £13.00

Mrs Doubtfire at Manchester Opera House

MFDF 2022
Festivals Until 2 October 2022,

Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2022

Music Until 5 October 2022, from £5.50

Sounds of Nature at The Stoller Hall

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange
Theatre Until 8 October 2022, from £10.00

The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Exchange

Electric Gamebox at the arndale
Childrens Until 22 October 2022, from £5.00

Electric Gamebox at The Arndale

Victoria Baths Guided Tour
Activity Until 26 October 2022, from £6

Victoria Baths Guided Tour

Illustration entitled ‘Because you cannot tame something so happily wild’ by Emily Hughes showing painted animals in a woodland setting
Exhibitions Until 30 October 2022, FREE

Picture This at The Lowry

vegan super club
Activity Until 25 November 2022, from £50

Supper Club at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School