4 artists have been commissioned to work alongside local creative partners and community groups, to co-create unique multi-artform projects on King Street.
King Street was once the hub of entertainment in Wigan and Streets Apart aims to play a role in the revival of the beloved street to its former glory. The Streets Apart project is a three-year cultural programme supported by £120,000 investment from national funder Historic England. The project will also receive financial support from The Old Courts and Wigan Council.
The Streets Apart consortium, led by The Old Courts (who also own The Royal Court Theatre on King Street), ran an open call out for artists to apply for the commission. The consortium selected the final artists after a two-stage process. This process was also supported by Leigh-based teenager Kayleigh Neal, who is a member of the Creative Activators.
The Streets Apart Consortium consists of nine partners including, The Old Courts, Wigan Council, Healthy Arts, Wigan Little Theatre, Stolen Thread, SL Leisure, Wigan Building Preservation Trust, Wigan Youth Zone and Wigan Local History & Heritage Society.
Rebecca May of May Wild Studio is an artist, designer, educator, and partner/cofounder of social arts practice May Wild Studio – creating artworks challenging the conventions between visual art and traditional craft making. Using storytelling, collaboration and participatory projects, Rebecca’s work raises awareness and encourages conversation around themes of sense of place, sustainability, and local/global environmental issues.
Rebecca May said: “King Street is a place full of life and culture both past and present, a street rich in heritage, architecture and people. I’m excited to work together with a local community to ‘look closer’ at King Street. Explore, reveal and document the streets details, the tactile and stories to inspire a new site responsive co-create artwork.”
Rebecca will be collaborating Ekhaya Empowerment, a local C.I.C which aims to alleviate poverty amongst women from marginalised communities through Empowerment, Education and Integration. Rebecca will be working with women and children from the Ekhaya community throughout this project.
Ciara Leeming is a photographer and writer, with more than 15 years’ experience as a freelance social affairs journalist. Ciara has swapped the media for community arts projects but approaches her work in a similar way. Ciara likes to develop strong relationships with community members and to draw out compelling narratives in work which has warmth and integrity.
“I plan to start by sharing photography skills with a range of people who live in Wigan – including, hopefully, some who work in and around King Street. This is likely to involve a series of photo walks on King Street in early 2022. These images would kick-start creative conversations around memory, community, and personal relationships to King Street. This commission will be process-driven so the final output will be decided as we go along. It all depends upon who comes forward to collaborate with me and in which direction we collectively decide to take our work. This freedom is exciting!”
Julie McKiernan and Corrie Shelley specialise in turning local history, facts and people’s memories into stories and songs that engage, entertain and inform. They use creative writing, songwriting and photography to bring stories to life and capture and preserve them for future generations.
Julie and Corrie say:
“We are looking forward to sharing local people’s memories of life on King Street and hearing how much a part it played in their social and/or working lives.”
As part of the first wave of commissioned projects, local artists, Julie McKiernan and Corrie Shelley are looking for the public to share their memories of King Street in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
They are looking for stories and memories from anyone in the Wigan Borough, Greater Manchester or any other part of the world who worked in one of the buildings on the street, drove a taxi, delivered post, cleaned or maintained the street. Or networked, socialized, met their best friend, long lost cousin or partner on King Street.
All the memories collated will be shared with Archives: Wigan & Leigh, to create a social history of King Street, but eight will be selected to be developed into stories and displayed as part of the project. For those eager to share their memories of King Street and to find out more about the project, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for sharing memories is midnight on Friday 28 January.
King Street image kindly provided courtesy of Archives: Wigan & Leigh.