Picturing High Street brings 200 public images in to Historic England archive

Since September 2022, people across England have been responding to an online national call out to submit their photographs of the high street on Instagram under the hashtag #PicturingHighStreets. Now, these 204 winning photographs have entered the Historic England Archive – the nation’s archive for England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history – alongside 173 new images taken as part of local projects with resident artists on high streets.

Picturing High Streets has been a partnership between Historic England and Photoworks, helping to build a contemporary picture of England’s high streets through mass public participation and community engagement. It has revealed how important the high street can be as a space for people to come together and connect.

The Picturing High Streets call out and exhibition marks the final year of Historic England’s High Streets Cultural Programme and the £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zones Programme which has been revitalising more than 60 high streets across England.

Works by resident artists based across England will be seen together for the first time in the Archive. Artists in Bristol, Chester, Coventry, Leicester, Prescot, Stoke-on-Trent and London have engaged with local communities through socially engaged practice to produce snapshots of how the high street is used and who it is used by including the local customs and traditions linked to the high street in different parts of the country. The six main resident photographers benefitted from mentoring support delivered by Impressions Gallery (Bradford), Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool), GRAIN Projects, FORMAT/QUAD, London College of Communication (University of the Arts London), Redeye The Photography Network, ReFramed and The Photographers’ Gallery.

From March to November 2023, photographs from the public and artists toured across towns and cities in England. Kicking off in London in the form of projections at Soho Photography Quarter the images then popped up in DerbyBristolHastingsMiddlesbrough, PrescotNorwichBradfordStoke-on-Trent and Walsall. The exhibition reached over 1.1 million people in these towns.

They were also seen by millions on digital outdoor advertising screens hosted by partner Clear Channel UK. 

The project also sought to engage the public by encouraging submissions around two major themes – bus stops and ghost signs. The bus stops call out was led and judged by Clear Channel UK. 24 ghost sign images and 150 bus stop images were submitted during each call out.


See: https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/picturing-high-streets-images-added-archive/

Image: 'Shudehill Street, Manchester' Call out: Art in the Streets; Location: Manchester © Rod Pengelly. Historic England Archive HEC01/128/02/17/03

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