An intermediate conclusion

As the funded part of the project gathers momentum to come to a intermediate conclusion, I have been searching for public spaces to pop large scale images of the participants photographs in, ideally in windows around Blackpool where there will be high footfall. I am hoping to create some kind of arts trail where audiences will stumble across the images and log into the audios to listen to the participants stories.

Because the project was born from "the people" and the peoples "stories" my greatest ambition for the series of images is that people will start talking to one another about the great legacy of performance that Blackpool is built on creating new forms of respect within Blackpool's community and its unique and quirky social history.

July also found me doing two talks on the series at a Heritage event and at The Grundy Art Gallery. Meeting people who find a connection to the photography series is seriously rewarding with a lady approaching me to recommend two books which she felt had a connection to the series: The Years: Annie Ernaux and The Lonely City - Olivia Laing, books that appear to be a little about loneliness and how we keep memories. I have started to read the books and it has made me consider that perhaps indeed the photography series does have an element of loneliness, I think I mentioned a lot in the talks how we have perhaps stopped sitting down and connecting with people due to social media and its easier to email or text, its made me consider my own sense of loneliness and that the series is a way for me to perhaps selfishly connect with people through photography whilst being able to listen to golden "hidden" stories - we forget that as we get older (me included at 44) that we have lived! But in modern day it is youth that is in focus in fashion in commerce, in music but life is in a cycle so we are all effected by what has been before, I think it was Oscar Wilde who stated "Youth is wasted on the young."

Considering this and the elements of performance, how must it feel to connect to dozens of people at once from a stage, is it all encapsulating and can it be felt as a tangible experience in places like The Grand Theatre or The Opera House there is a sense of what has been before there - it holds a "special" atmosphere, is it true then that we feel that from people when we talk to them or listen to their stories or photograph them.

I want to thank Circus250, The Grundy and Visit Blackpool for including me in their current exhibition showing some of the #retiredperformers work up until September the 8th where you will find lots of other interesting work exploring circus and performance directly and indirectly. Please go if you get the chance. https://www.grundyartgallery.com/programme/


Grundy Art Gallery

grundyartgallery.com

#RetiredPerformers is a series of images and audio interviews being captured over 12 months by Blackpool-based photographer, Claire Griffiths.


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June has been a wild month

​June has been a wild month for the #retiredperformers series with indication from The Grundy Art Gallery Blackpool that they would like to show some of the work alongside the Circus 250 install. I feel delighted that some of the preliminary work for The Retired Performers will be shown alongside amazing photographers such as Peter Lavery and Barnet Saidman http://grundyartgallery.com/programme/current/.


Grundy Art Gallery

grundyartgallery.com

Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool. Forming a 360-degree horizon around the walls of the gallery, All the World's a Sunny Day comprises a series of collages made from found postcards, where a single word has been cut from the back and reinserted into the image on the front.


This month also included setting up exhibitions for #positionsofpower alongside a collaborative group I am in: The Disparity Collective - the work has been created with seven other amazing photographers as part of The Lightbox Residency https://www.redeye.org.uk/opinion/meet-lightbox-talent https://www.disparitycollective.co.uk/ with work to be shown at the Independent Biennial Launch in Liverpool. 


Meet the Lightbox Talent | Redeye

www.redeye.org.uk 

Redeye's Lightbox is an intensive year-long photography course, which launches the careers of professional photographers through workshops, networking sessions and support from experts in the photography industry.


June was also the month I spoke about The #retiredperformers series on Radio Lancashire with John Gilmore and one of my participants: Des Owen. You can currently see two of the large scale images installed at The Winter Gardens and The Blackpool Central Library.

If you are someone who has connections to performance in or prior to the 70's in Blackpool - I am especially interested in speaking to you so do feel free to get in touch.

I am doing a Heritage Talk at Grange Park on the #retiredperformers series 24/07 at 5pm and a talk with the curator of The Grundy Art Gallery Paulette Brien on the 28th. Love to see you there.

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Living room at Yuri and Tonya, May 2018

II went on a photography workshop to London in Peckham with some photographers I really admire, the workshop was around social history. It made me really think about why I am doing this series, one of the things that both that workshop and a recent fellow photographers exhibition highlighted to me was how I should be thinking about how to get "inside" the project. It reminded me that I needed to photograph around the series more and more. Meeting the participants to go through scrapbooks and have cups of tea at their homes if they would let me. Photographing personal artifacts and objects that might indicate a hidden life of performance. 

The process of getting to know past performers and their histories feels strangely intimate and somehow intrusive as a photographer to listen to memories and capture an image, I want to pay homage and demonstrate a sense of respect through the photographs. Peoples stories are the most interesting of all. How does photography open up a conversation?

LIVING ROOM AND YURI AND TONYA, MAY 2018
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An Eventful Month

​This month has been eventful co-ordinating individuals back into spaces they performed in most notably the Tower Circus. Working around current rehearsals and taking the time for the participants of the #retiredperformers series to have the experience of going back to the place they had begun their career.

The project itself is developing through the participants involvement, who they are and what their memories evoke. I spent some time this month with Blackpool Museum at their coffee morning where I met Karl Bartoni the only person to have performed an escape act hung from his feet from the top of Blackpool Tower. Karl began his career as a Circus Boy at The Tower, looking after the horses and then the polar bears.

The series of images is making me think about my own photograph practice and I am keen to include personal archives and portraits at home of participants as it seems wrong to take participants portraits without continuing relationships. Frank Lucas one of my initial volunteers for the series, his image is due to be installed in The Winter Gardens this month, revisiting at home with the sound artist Rick Thompson.


SANDRA GRIFFITHS
DEBBIE LANE
FRANK LUCAS AND HIS BAND
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Ex Roly Poly

​After visiting the Imperial Hotel this week and discovering its amazing interiors not to mention the number of notable visitors over the years, I shall be returning to photograph some of the participants of the #retiredperformers project. 

With great delight, I have met an ex Roly Poly this week, a retired entertainments journalist, a children's performer whose great-grandmother was a circus dancer and spent quite a bit of time buying vintage Blackpool postcards which I hope to incorporate into the process. 

Please if you feel you have your own story re: Performance or performing prior to the 1970's in Blackpool do get in touch.


THE IMPERIAL HOTEL
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The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones rioted in Blackpool in 1963 they were banned until 2003. Blackpool was always the town where bands came to play. It still is today - did you see The Rolling Stones riot in 63? What was the feeling? 

The Retired Performers Project Time and Tide is a series of images and interviews created to have a greater understanding of Blackpool's hidden performance community. The project's fluid approach encourages conversations and storytelling.

If you feel you might be able to help or share a story, please get in touch via the contact page.


THE ROLLING STONES RIOTED IN BLACKPOOL IN 1963
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Showzam 2015

Starting the Project: It is February 2018 but 2015 was the year, I met the retired foot juggler one of the inspirations behind the Time and Tide, Retired Performers Project. It was also the year I photographed Circolombia. I saw Nina (the retired foot juggler) again this week, in fact, I had breakfast with her family, she is getting ready for me to interview her on audio and have her photo taken, she told me a few tales, including one about Princess Margaret. 

The process of interviewing and photographing participants will last over 9 months. Building relationships and talking to performers who have a relationship to Blackpool takes time. Tomorrow I head back to the circus to photograph a Circusette who performed as Charlie Cairoli's assistant.


CIRCOLOMBIA 2015 AT SHOWZAM CIRCUS TOWN FESTIVAL BLACKPOOL, UK
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