The images in the two documents were made by members of the public who worked with artist Ciara Leeming, as part of the Streets Apart project.
One group of participants photographed the street and came together at a later date to write captions, which reflect their memories and feelings about this area of Wigan, which has changed so much over the decades.
Their images and words – together with the thoughts of a handful of other local people – can be found in Street View e-book.
Ciara and designer Amy Cecilia Leigh also spent several months working with people from The Brick, a charity which supports people in crisis and helps people move on from homelessness. Participants used photography, collage and other creative approaches to create a zine, In My Own Words, which reflects on their experiences and relationship with the town.
King Street will continue to evolve as part of the regeneration process which is due to take place over the coming years. Our town centres are struggling due to austerity, changing shopping habits, the impact of the pandemic and – now – a looming recession, and they must adapt to survive.
Lived experience can easily get lost amid corporate strategies and redevelopment plans, so the aim of this socially-engaged photography project is to carve a space where people’s voices can be heard and where everyday stories are centred.
This street has been used by many Wiganers over the years and is the backdrop to many personal narratives. All public spaces change over time, but it is worth considering who owns places like King Street, and whom they should serve. How can we ensure it develops and thrives, while remaining accessible and welcoming to all parts of the local community?
Ciara took members of the public down King Street to photograph the street from passer-by’s to architecture.
“People who attended my photo walks and annotated their images with their memories and personal narratives were passionate about the street’s grand and vibrant past and excited about its potential regeneration and future. Some of these images are displayed on vinyl panels on King Street – with many more in an ebook which can be downloaded for free.”
It’s been a privilege to hear so many people’s experiences of King Street over the years. I conducted photo walks also worked with people who use the services of homeless charity The Brick to create a zine, In My Own Words, exploring their lived experiences on King Street and beyond. We used a range of creative approaches during our sessions to develop these first-person stories. Designer Amy Cecilia Leigh worked with me on both parts of the commission. As we face recession and huge and terrifying projected rises in poverty, my time with the Brick has left me thinking a lot about who is permitted to inhabit public space. I hope King Street thrives again but remains accessible and welcoming to all parts of the Wigan community.