Reclaiming the city

From January and March 2021 I worked with the Chester LGBtQ+ community sharing experiences of lockdown and hopes for the cultural future of the city.  We considered whether the time for retail led regeneration had past and the notion of reclaiming – for the city and themselves.

This socially engaged project was a pilot study to think about how we can make Chester’s High Street a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and spend time in and celebrate what is unique about Chester’s Rows, its stories and people.  We discussed how every city has a unique and distinctive history that can create a sense of place and identity.

It was a challenging process at times with most of our contact being right at the heart of the lockdown and many of the participants shielding.  The one aspect that wasn’t effected by this was the online interviews and discussions which formed the basis for the response and exhibition.  From the participants’ words we worked together on a creative interpretation of quotes taken from the text and portraits in places around Chester of personal meaning.

This collaborative response resulted in a triptych of portraits taken by myself, the participants and stock images, creative quotes inspired by their thoughts and vision for the city and their words from our discussions.  Eighteen people took part and the following shows an example of the work which can be viewed externally on the windows at 22 and 38 Watergate Street.

A socially engaged photography project with the Chester’s LGBTQ+ community as part of the Chester High Street Heritage Action Zone Cultural Programme.  In partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Cheshire West Council and Chester Pride, funded by Historic England, Arts Council England, Heritage Fund, HM Government Revitalising our Hi!Street.