During that time, she held two public workshops, carried out various photoshoots and met local historians, shopkeepers and shoppers. She spent her time walking, talking, writing, drawing and studying the shopping centre. The residency culminated in an evening event on the precinct with a presentation and exhibition of the artwork that had been created.
Lowri used old photographs as a starting point for her research - to start conversations and to understand the many different pasts of Swinton’s shopping precinct. The images she discovered inspired her to reconstruct the photographs, and with help from the general public and the architecture in Swinton Square, Lowri was able to work out where those old images were taken.
Local charity shops, Oxfam, The Salvation Army and The A World CIC, supplied vintage clothing and props for the photoshoots. Photographer Simon Buckley who is in the middle of making a film about Swinton (called Gathering Points), came on board to take the pictures. There was a spontaneous, sprawling energy around the photoshoots themselves – and they generated quite a crowd as passersby wandered into the scenes, stood still, and watched as others tried to follow in the steps of people who had been there decades before. The Parade Chippy supplied many a hot meal to the project team, as well as posing in front of the camera to recreate an old photo of the shop that they have on their wall.
It was a real team effort - and many of the people who had been involved in recreating those rediscovered images from the past, turned out to see an exhibition of the finished photographs and come together for a celebratory party. That night, those people added their own memories to a set of blueprints of the precinct, some of them inspired by the many old photographs on display.
Lowri is currently working on plans to return to Swinton in summer 2024 - with a site specific, promenade piece of theatre. She wants to use some of the stories she’s heard about the place and bring them to life in magical, surprising scenes in unexpected corners of the town centre. Watch this space for more information.
This project is part of a Swinton events and animation programme developed in response to recommendations that came out of community engagement to develop The Swinton Vision.
This page was last updated on 29 November 2023