A historic photography exhibition, capturing the essence of the Prescot local community, is on display in Open Eye Gallery, a dedicated photography gallery in the North West of England.
The exhibition is the culmination of two years’ work by Prescot photographer in residence, Tony Mallon, which is also currently on display in Prescot town centre.
“Reimagining Prescot’s High Street” is now part of a group exhibition, “A Place of Our Own”, which brings together the local stories of people from Prescot, Walton and Chester town centre sharing people’s pride and memories with each place.
Tony was appointed as Prescot’s photographer in residence in July 2021, as part of the Picturing England’s High Streets cultural programme which is part of the national cultural programme for High Street Heritage Action Zones.
He worked in collaboration with local residents, inviting people to set up a local photography group to create a contemporary portrait of the area. Tony placed the cameras in the hands of local residents, supporting them to become the documenters of their own community, using a combination of street photography and portrait techniques to tell their story.
“In 2022, I established a weekly photography club at Prescot Church Hall which gave local residents the opportunity to develop their photographic skills and contribute to documenting their ‘High Street’ using portraiture and street photography.
The weekly photography walks have revealed for many Prescot’s rich and hidden history. The participant’s have highlighted that the ‘High Street’ should still be the beating heart of our town centres and have been enthusiastic about capturing a slice of social history – photographing shoppers, shop/business owners and their staff and the buildings/spaces they frequent most days to shop and socialise.
I’m so proud by the quality of work that has been produced and how the participants have embraced capturing their town centre. This collaboration and co-produced work has shown how the ‘High Street’ has evolved yet still gives a sense of identity and pride. A place that was, still is and should be for future generations it’s beating heart.”
Cllr Tony Brennan, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said:
“This photography project has really captured the hearts and the imagination of the local Prescot community, and it is wonderful to see the work of Tony and everyone involved on display in this special exhibition.
“Prescot town centre is a really unique place, and I am really proud that we are able to share that with a wider audience and to showcase the town.”
View the exhibition
You can view “A Place of Our Own” at Open Eye Gallery, Mann Island, L3 1BP. The gallery is open 10am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
Tony is a Merseyside-based photographic artist who was brought up in Knowsley and attended an art foundation course in Prescot. He has 25 years’ experience of delivering socially-engaged art projects, including a recent three-year project in Kirkby. He has a passion and a desire to connect and collaborate with people who are usually excluded from participating in and producing art. His work also focuses on people and place, and how communities define themselves.
See Tony’s website with examples of his work here www.digitintherib.co.uk
‘Picturing High Streets’ is a three-year project that delivered six photographer-in-residence programmes at six high street locations across England, as well as artist mentoring and a digital nationwide mass participation project. The high streets cultural programme is the widest-reaching, community-led arts and heritage programme in the public realm that has ever been organised, led by Historic England in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The £7.4 million Cultural Programme is part of the broader £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) initiative, of which Prescot is part of. The Cultural Programme will be one of the biggest ever community-led arts and heritage programme in the public realm.
About the Prescot High Street Heritage Action Zone
Prescot was selected as one of the 68 high streets to benefit from the High Streets Heritage Action Zone project in 2020. The £3.1 million heritage-led regeneration programme will see major investment from the Council and Historic England into a number of key projects in Prescot town centre. In addition, Prescot will see a series of cultural events as part of the HSHAZ Cultural Programme Local Grants, as delivered by the recently established Prescot Cultural Consortium, led by The Shakespeare North Playhouse.
About Open Eye Gallery
Founded in 1977, Open Eye Gallery is an independent charity and photography gallery based in Liverpool. One of the UK’s leading photography spaces, it is the only gallery dedicated to photography and related media in the North West of England and works at a local and global level. Open Eye Gallery believes photography is for everyone, informing our present and inspiring positive futures. Open Eye Gallery works with people to explore photography’s unique ability to connect, to tell stories, to inquire, to reflect on humanity’s past and present, and to celebrate its diversity and creativity. www.openeye.org.uk @openeyegallery
To find out what is happening in your area and get involved, please follow @HistoricEngland @Prescot_HAZ_THI #HistoricHighStreets #PicturingPrescot and visit: www.HistoricEngland.org.uk/HighStreetCulture