As It Comes moves

25 02 2011

Yesterday we installed the As It Comes work in another empty unit in St Nicholas Arcade as it was intended that the project tour to different empty units in Lancaster.  It will be in this site till the end of June.





There will always be a place for independent traders…

17 02 2011

We’ve talked a lot about independent shops and this is the first of a series of posts recounting some of the things that both traders and shoppers have said to me during the project. This post has quotes from members of the the Marsh History Group, and traders in D Gregory Butcher, R&P Shaw Fishmonger and Fabrix.

You could go in and you could smell what kind of shop you were in, with your eyes closed you could tell what kind of shop it was, the cobblers, the grocers, the coffee shop…

When it was independent shops you went in and you picked what you wanted and how much you wanted, not all in packs that have to be sold within a certain length of time, and there was more variety, you could pick and choose between shops as well.

People will come and buy one or two slices of meat at a time cos they don’t want to waste any money…. Its local producers selling to local retailers, the people who come in are regulars, they know the traders and its more of a partnership than just a commercial transaction, they are not just coming to buy their meat off me, they are talking to me about their family, I’m talking to them about my family, community… there is a rapport between the customers and traders that you just cant get in a supermarket, and I think that is why there will always be a place for independent traders.


We can keep our things a lot fresher than supermarkets, because we are buying direct we know when they’ve come in, how many days we can keep them. They (customers) trust us with our knowledge of fish… you’ve got to know where it has come from, how it was caught, how to cook it…

I think you get honest advice… because they (independent traders) are interest in what they are selling…

In the old shops life was a far far different pace… a different pattern…





A few Brews with the Marsh History Group

28 11 2010

During the project Ive been lucky to meet with and work with the Marsh History Group of local people who meet to remember and record the history of Lancaster and have been involved in books, publications and adding to archives.  I joined them a few times for a chat, a brew, many laughs and a revealing walk around Lancaster  on a very rainy day. We talked about the independent shops, food, saving for christmas, making a little food go a long way, a ‘bone for the dog’, how much more food waste there is with packaged food today and other aspects of local shops everyday life.

In the old shops life was a far far different pace, life was a different pattern.

You could go in and you could smell what kind of shop you were in, with your eyes closed you could tell what kind of shop it was, the cobblers, the grocers, the coffee shop.

When there were more independent shops you went in and you picked what you wanted, and how much you wanted, not all in packs that have to be sold within a certain length of time. And there was more variety, you could pick and choose shops as well.

In those days they spent a lot of their income on food, today they spend less on food and more on other things.

You used to get food on tick…in town it was quite high class and they didn’t give you food on tick in town..





Tools of The Trade

5 11 2010

In all of the shops, market stalls and workshops I notice the tools people use – from computers and tills to specialist handtools. There are some tools that almost everyone has a version of like scissors and sellotape or computers and tills and others that are highly specific. But when you ask traders what the tools of their trade are its not really the physical things that matter its the knowledge, the skills and the ability to talk to customers.  All throughout Ive been making drawings of people at work and in conversation to try and understand more about peoples knowledge and how they use it and pass it on to other generations.

Alice





Sketching and Stitching

20 10 2010

I’ve done about 20 interviews and sessions meeting and drawing with traders and am now listening to those and working on some large scale works on cloth for installation in 10 New Street on the 10th November.

Ive been sketching using embroidery, sewing with cotton on cotton. Cotton manufacturing was once an important industry in Lancaster and Lancashire and literally stitching up the stories seemed right as a response to all the conversations about the skills, knowledge and unique relationships the traders and their customers have. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be posting more about the individual conversations and some audio clips as well as images and sketches from the project research.

Alice





Human Scale

18 08 2010

As the project progresses I am thinking a lot about how the presence of local shops affects life in the community and the way informal things can happen around local shops and markets. Local shops sometimes foster a very human scale of vibrant life on streets and it is often the more personal, less regulated and more informal spaces like independent shops and markets that help connect people and communities together.

The issues of local distinctiveness and the idea of ‘creative city’ have recurred in my work across commissions in both the regeneration and art sectors. I’ve seen an important role for independent shopkeepers in shaping the notion of ‘creative city’ as a shared, flexible space; using the pavement a selling space, a meeting space, a space of exchange.

Projects I’ve been involved in Peterborough, Hertfordshire and rural Cambridgeshire all show that local shops encourage a very human scale of vibrant life on streets that have not been sucked dry by a shopping center. However this is changing alongside the implications of regeneration, new malls and the privatisation of public space and its going to be interesting to hear from Lancaster’s independent traders, both new and longstanding on their visions of the future.





Shoptalk

20 07 2010

I have been commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts to undertake a new commission in their Arts Talking Shop programme. The commission is to explore the issues and history surrounding independent shopkeepers and retail in Lancaster and it draws on my interest in markets, shops, common spaces and the way communities define the identity of a place.


The issues of local distinctiveness and the idea of ‘creative city’ have recurred in my work   across commissions in both the regeneration and art sectors.  Independent shopkeepers play an important role in shaping the notion of ‘creative city’ as a shared, flexible space; using the street and pavement a selling space, a meeting space, a space of exchange. The project will be exploring the inherent creativity of shopkeepers; how the presence of shops affects life on the street and the way informal things can happen around local shops and markets. Local shops sometimes foster a very human scale of vibrant life on streets that have not been sucked dry by a shopping centre and often its the less regulated more informal spaces like markets that draw their communities together.