Artwork unveiled in Wigan town center as part of King Street-focused heritage project

A series of works were created by artists and members of the public, with physical installations on King Street, the launch of digital artworks and a printed zine.

The street exhibits are now on display in the former Taxi Office and Evolution Bar, with access made possible by the owners of Ibiza Bar and Evolution Bar so that people can visit the work.

It is part of the Streets Apart project, which aims to encourage people to imagine a different future for King Street, through artist and community-led projects.

Artist Rebecca May, center, with Elva Douglas, left, and Miki Shika, right, who participated in Home Ekhaya Wom

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Photographer and writer Ciara Leeming organized photography walks on King Street, with photos taken by members of the public annotated in workshops with memorabilia from the street. They were presented in the form of an exhibition of photographs and an online electronic book.

She has also worked closely with members of homelessness and poverty charity The Brick and Wigan-based graphic designer Amy Cecilia Leigh to create a print and digital zine exploring the relationship with King Street.

Ciara said: “It has been a privilege to hear the experiences of so many people on King Street over the years. The people who witnessed my photographic walks and annotated their images with their memories and personal stories were passionate about the street’s grand and vibrant past and excited about its regenerative potential and future. Some of these images are displayed on vinyl signs on King Street, and many more in a free downloadable e-book.

Photographs taken on King Street have been annotated and exhibited

“I’ve also worked with people who use the services of homeless charity The Brick to create an In My Own Words zine, exploring their lived experiences on King Street and beyond. We’ve used a range creative approaches during our sessions to develop these Designer Amy Cecilia Leigh worked with me on both parts of the commission.

“As we face recession and a huge and terrifying projected increase in poverty, my time with The Brick has made me think a lot about who is allowed to inhabit public space. I hope King Street thriving again but remaining accessible and welcoming to all parts of the Wigan Community.

Artist Rebecca May, who is co-founder of social arts practice May Wild Studio, worked with Miki Shika, founder of CIC Ekhaya Empowerment, which aims to alleviate poverty among women from marginalized communities in the borough.

They worked with women from Ekhaya Empowerment and young photographer Haya Aref to develop artworks exploring themes of home and taking.

Artist Ciara Leeming, center, with some of the participants who took part in the street photography sessions

inspiration from the architectural and craft features of King Street.

Rebecca said: “Working with The Old Courts and Ekhaya Empowerment to co-create the Wigan Streets Apart King Street Commission has been a truly creative and meaningful collective experience. Exploring the themes of Wigan and home, connecting to the heritage and craftsmanship of King Street, we have created a mural that creatively responds to all these themes, a vibrant and tactile celebration of the past and the future of King Street.

The three-year Streets Apart program celebrates the history of King Street, uncovers its hidden stories and launches a period of cultural renewal.

Local and national artists are working with community leaders and members of the public to create unique street art, outdoor performances and more on King Street, culminating in a celebratory festival next summer.

The photographs have been annotated with thoughts on King Street

Led by The Old Courts, the Streets Apart consortium currently includes Wigan Council, SL Leisure, Wigan Youth Zone, Healthy Arts, Wigan Little Theatre, Stolen Thread Productions, Wigan Local History and Heritage Society and Wigan Building Preservation Trust.

It is supported by Historic England, as part of its High Streets Heritage Action Zone cultural programme.

Lesley O’Halloran, Director of People and Culture for Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council is proud to be part of the Streets Apart consortia who work with local communities and businesses to bring heritage to life. of King Street through creativity. The installation of Ciara and Rebecca’s works marks a wonderful moment in the project where we begin to see the work grow with local residents taking its place on the street.

Streets Apart launched an open call for artists to apply for a 2021 commission and selected the final artists with support from Leigh’s teenager Kayleigh Neal, who is a member of Creative Activators, a group of 14-19 year olds helping to shake up Wigan’s art scene.

Julie McKiernan and Corrie Shelley, who specialize in turning local history, facts and people’s memories into stories and songs, were also selected to participate.

For their commission, they work with eight people with personal memories of King Street, four young people from Wigan Youth Zone and eight members of local creative writing groups.

Reflections on King Street

Through workshops, intergenerational interviews and creative writing sessions, artists and community members expand the memories of street people into a new anthology of creative writing.

Julie and Corrie’s project will include the creation of a song and an exhibition of photographic posters, inspired by these memories and the legacy of live performance and street music hall.

The commission will culminate in a live performance event on King Street this fall.

A new round of artist commissions are due to begin this month, with established artists creating new work with the local community, including Louise Fazackerley, Northern Heart Films, Steve Fairclough and Andee Collard.

Artist Rebecca May with the Home Ekhaya Wom project