This blog is:

This blog is:
A living sketch book for the ideas generated during our Creative Halton Project in 2011. On this blog you will get to see the ideas as they pop up and see where the inspiration has come from. These are the ideas of the artists Beth Barlow and Jason Sheppard, informed by those we have spoken to. It has also grown to include the ideas sent to us by local residents . If you want to contribute please e mail

This blog is not:
A finished product. Many of the ideas here will be tested and seen to be the wrong for the place, time and its people. We hope that the ideas we take forward will be the correct ones, giving Runcorn a taste of its rich past, the positives in its present and notions about its future.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Shopping for Ideas

About two years ago local resident and writer Chris Darlington set off around Runcorn old town to write a poem about all the things you could still get in Runcorn Old Town. You can see the full poem, "Oh, there's nothing to do in the old town" here. Despite the missing and empty shops scattered fairly liberally around the town its a fairly diverse list with lots of specialised shops which you wouldn't find in other town centres, everything from a guitar to an aromatherapy treatment. As a way of really looking at the town and getting some of the materials we needed we decided to take the poem and use it as a shopping list to see if, two years on the same shops were still surviving. The rules of the process were:

  1. Shop for the goods in the order they appear on the list-this is daft in terms of logical shopping but it meant that we walked in different ways and often up and down the same street many times. It took much longer but meant that we spent more time in the town getting to know t better.
  2. Ask each shop for a little something they could either donate to the project or which we could buy for under £2.00. The item could be broken or ready to be thrown away.
  3. On leaving each shop ask them to direct us to the next shop on the list-this led to some really interesting links where we were sent on to see their friend with the message "Tell them I sent you."
  4. Photograph us with each item in or near the each of the shops.
The results were pretty conclusive you can buy all of the things on the list in the old town and below are the objects which the kind shop keepers of Runcorn have donated to be made into a moving sculpture some time soon.

  • Wife to Be Bridal shop-two crystals, a tiara box, some dress straps and a pink veil.
  • Elaine Dillon Hairdressers-A hairbrush, some curlers, some nail equipment, hair grips
  • The Gas Store-Some wood and a ball cock
  • Highlands Curtains-A curtain tie back and some wallpaper
  • Runcorn Chiropody Clinic-some foot rubbers and maybe a plastic foot if they can find where it has ran off to.
  • Mullens Opticians-3 pairs of glasses
  • Lavenders- aromatherapy bottles
  • Runcorn swimming baths-some ticket arm bands
  • La Tattoos-Some tattoo magazines
  • Kwick fit-Some car screws and bits I don't understand
  • Motorworld-bits of an old bike being fixed
  • Monks-Two packets of marsh mallows
  • Joan Elizabeth's Florists-a silk sun flower
  • The Barley Mow Pub-beer mats and straws
  • Mrs D's Cafe-a broken tea cup
  • The Curiosity book shop-some book marks and a book on Runcorn's history by Liz Howard
  • Ideal sounds-Guitar magazines
  • Johnsons the cleaners-a carrier bag
  • The Money Centre-some beer mats and a pen
  • Best Wishes Card Shop-a balloon and a gift bag and other bits and bobs in the future
  • William Hill betting shop-some betting pens
  • Adams Michaels estate agents-some compliments slips
  • Pet Corner-2 cuttle large fish
  • Prescription port-a tablet box and a pill bottle

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