Picturing England's High Streets: Suzanne St Clare appointed as Chester Photographer-in-Residence

1 July 2021

Today Photoworks is pleased to reveal Suzanne St Clare as the artist chosen for a photographic residency in Chester as part of Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme. 

The residencies are for 'Picturing England’s High Streets', which is a three-year project as part of the national cultural programme for High Street Heritage Action Zones. The photographers will use a ‘socially-engaged’ approach, working alongside local communities, to create a contemporary portrait of England's high streets between now and 2024. Starting immediately, the photographers-in-residence will work with local people to reimagine the high street, producing images which will become part of the Historic England Archive. 

To host each residency, Photoworks and Historic England have partnered with photography organisations across England, including Open Eye Gallery. 

Users of the high streets and the community are at the heart of 'Picturing England’s High Streets', and each selected photographer has a link to the local high street area. 

Open Eye Gallery is supporting established photographer Suzanne St Clare, who will be working with various communities in Chester from 2021-2024. Adding to this, during 2021/22, emerging photographer Ciara Leeming will develop work with a local community group. Both will receive additional support from Cheshire West and Chester Council. 

Suzanne St Clare said: "Chester has been part of my family life since childhood.  When I was looking through my dad’s old 35 mm Kodachrome slides recently I came across one of us feeding the ducks by the Dee.  Even though it was a Sunday afternoon my mum was in a two piece suit from Browns!  In the summer holidays whilst my dad called in on suppliers in the city centre I’d wander round the black and white timber framed buildings in Eastgate Street and spend my pocket money in Woolworths. 

"Having worked closely with Chester residents early this year for Reclaiming the City I was inspired by their thoughts about their identity with Chester and sense of place.  I am thrilled to be collaborating with a wider audience to explore this further, particularly at such an exciting time as we create our vision for the cultural future of the city."

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “I am delighted that Chester will be part of Picturing England's High Streets with Open Eye Gallery. We're really looking forward to working with photographers Suzanne and Ciara and the team in enabling the voices of our local communities to be part of the city’s stories.” 

Sarah Fisher, Executive Director of Open Eye Gallery said: "We are really pleased to have appointed Suzanne St Clare to work over the next three years on the Picturing England’s High Streets project together with Cheshire West and Chester. Suzanne has a lot of experience as a socially engaged photographer and a strong connection with Chester. She recently completed a pilot project working with Chester Pride called Reclaiming the City, which focused on individuals’ stories of place.  Equally we're delighted to have appointed Ciara Leeming, a talented early career photographer to work with communities this year, alongside Suzanne." 

Tamsin Silvey, Cultural Programme Curator, Historic England added: “Picturing England’s High Streets is an ambitious and long-running photography commission, that aims to get under the skin of our high streets and capture people’s hopes and dreams. To see this cohort of exceptional photographers come together is truly exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing them bring this commission to life.” 

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