Walls Have Voices is an anthology of specially commissioned new writing by local Blackpool writers that was created through a series of site-specific writing workshops exploring the ‘off the beaten track’ built heritage of the town.
The writers visited the Grundy Art Gallery, Central Library, the Grand Theatre and Layton Cemetery with their mentors Eleanor Rees and Zoe Lambert and took part in writing tasks that ignited imaginative reactions to place, explored how we can apply language to the physical environment to see it anew and how society thinks about the value of public space.
On the 12th July 2012 I received an email from Blackpool Council’s Head of Heritage asking if I was interested in a photography commission to provide editorial images that’d compliment the writings to be published in the Walls Have Voices book and presented at the book launch. I jumped at the chance and was given two weeks to produce the photography.
The brief was to shoot a series of “atmospheric, black and white photographs of the Grundy Art Gallery, Central Library, the Grand Theatre and Layton Cemetery to illustrate a new publication of creative writings inspired by the four places”.
I was familiar with all of the locations and had already been introduced to most of the people involved through previous photography jobs I’ve worked on. I was given complete freedom to explore all the locations as I desired and I had some wonderful experiences throughout the photography commission.
Walls Have Voices Photography Gallery
One of the many highlights was a personal tour of the Grand Theatre, where I was given the opportunity to stand on top of the ceiling of the theatre and look through the floorboards down at the stage below. Certainly not an experience I’d recommend to those who suffer from vertigo.
I was also shown the “dwarf bar” where, in the olden days, people were served beverages by those much shorter than myself. I should mention at this point that neither of these experiences are normally featured in tours of the Grand Theatre. At the Grundy Gallery, I was privileged to be personally shown around the Brian Griffiths exhibition ‘ON: A Re-Imagining of Blackpool Illuminations’ by gallery curator Stuart Tulloch where we got to catch up and discuss all of the wonderful work on display.
All in all, I spent three days at the four locations and a further two days editing all the photographs I’d taken. My final submission of fifty photographs were sent to the designer by the end of July and I spent August eagerly anticipating the 6th September 2012 when the book would be presented to everyone.
Walls Have Voices Book
The Walls Have Voices book launch was held at the recently refurbished Central Library and all the people involved were presented with a beautiful limited edition book featuring writings and photography commissioned for the project.
The writers were invited to read out their work from the book and a slideshow of all the photographs I’d produced was projected onto the wall. It was a lovely event to attend and was a good opportunity to see everyone who had contributed to the success of the work together.
Extract from Adele Robinson’s ‘Lady of Illumination’
“As evening falls to brash bustle of illuminated night,
she stands hewn from golden sandstone, deckchair-striped in Accrington red.
When Queen Street danced with parasols, prim etiquette in taffeta-linked toppers,
ties and tails and men of vision planned and built our Northern Seaside town,
she plied her trade through wretched wars and saw the Empire fall.”
It was a pleasure working on Walls Have Voices and my thanks go out to Heather Morrow and Lynne Pattinson (Blackpool Council), Stuart Tulloch (Grundy Art Gallery), Tony Starkey (Local History Archive , David Fletcher and Phil Harrison (Grand Theatre) and The Friends of Layton Cemetery.
Thanks also go out to the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the project. Want More Images From Walls Have Voices? To see the complete series of Walls Have Voices please visit my portfolio. If you like what you see please support my photography and tell you friends about it.