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, 1 June 2011

Does using empty shops give a place a bad name?

We've moved out of our studio in the end Cambden Building now but whilst we were there we got a lot of different reactions. Two of them were that it looked scruffy. I've pondered on this a lot and think it only right to air it and discuss here. The shop has been derelict for a few years now we think and has recently had some work done to shore up the walls after the demolition of next door. It was ok for a studio space but due to it being unsafe and dirty it was never going to be a pristine space open to the public. The aim of the shop window was to open up our ideas as they evolved, to give people a taste of how our brains were working and let people know what we had found out from all the lovely Runcorn folks. Very much like a sketch book it might get scruffy on pages. We wanted to give those who passed by something lively, thought provoking, maybe a comment on the current state of things and some echoes of the past which we could use in the future. Most people who passed by as we were there stopped and looked for at least a minute. That's a long time for an art work in an non gallery space. Think of all the posters, shop dressings and boardings you go past each day only to give them a sideways glance. The question What is it going to be? was sensible as it was a work in progress, not meant to be assessed as an artwork. The bricks we put about as tables and stools were not a reference back to the lines of bricks as art of the 60's, they were just a place to rest our bums. Its a scary job being an artist sometimes, we aren't there to annoy but we are there to provoke. We can't bring back the missing shops, we aren't that powerful yet, we can't bring solutions to all the current ills in the country. We can provoke debate and questions, highlight what is there and put forward some ideas for what could be. We can listen and try and give voice. We can maybe see a place through fresh eyes.
We have our fingers crossed that once we finish the project in July, after the treasure hunts, after the school and youth group made sculpture goes out onto the streets and into some other shops, after the Runcorn based drama group inspired by local historians show their dramas, after the film footage goes on line it will all become a little clearer and even if its a little scruffy it will be lively and full of fun and hope.

1 comment:

  1. Post copied from , Creative Halton Facebook

    I liked your post Beth, most people wouldn't consider putting themselves in a public space where they can be questioned about what they are doing, and artists do this a lot - pretty brave I would say. You are also right about people just walking past shop displays etc everyday without taking notice, so anything that stops people for even a couple of minutes to think has got be good?!?