In 2013 Claire was photographing Showzam in Blackpool and met a “retired foot juggler” who told her that her husband had performed for Hitler. After searching for a long term photography project, Claire realised that there must be a whole community of hidden stories attached to Blackpool and noted that her own family had such connections with her aunt being a Circusette in the 70’s and literally “running away with the circus”. The Retired Performers project was born.
The Retired Performers Project, ‘Time and Tide,’ is an Arts Council Funded Photography series, exploring stories around retired performers with connections to Blackpool, active and prior to the 1970s throughout 2018.
The photography project documents 30 performers through image and audio of ‘hidden’ stories of Blackpool’s performance based heritage through memories, spaces and the backdrop of Blackpool. This includes music, personal heritage archives and interviews. Participants are invited to be photographed in spaces they once performed in, such as The Circus Ring, The Winter Gardens Theatres and against aesthetic backdrops of Blackpool.
Over 9 months, a website will be populated with images of performers and stand as a long term document paying homage to performance individuals whose memories of place (Blackpool) are held in high esteem and allow audiences a glimpse into ‘backstage’ nostalgia and personal story telling. Audios will be created alongside sound artist: Rick Thompson from Other Worlds Festival.
Large scale photographs will be installed in high foot fall areas across Blackpool engaging residents and visitors of Blackpool in a non-traditional and organic way to follow The Time and Tide participants’ stories via image and audio pieces.
The project encourages cross generational storytelling and respect to Blackpool as a destination in performance and the people who made it so. Participant’s includes: Ice dancers, Circusettes, Blackpool Tower Orchestra Members, Dancers, Tower Ballet and drag queens. It is anticipated that the project will continue after the initial 9 month period.
Should you be an individual who worked in performance in Blackpool in or prior to the 1970’s please contact Claire via
Claire Walmsley Griffiths: After graduating in 2001with a BA Hons in Fine Art from Northampton University, Claire specialised in analogue and dark room photography. Claire works with a number of organisations within art, community and performance based commissions, her images produced for “We are here because we are here” – Jeremey Deller project were published in a 2017 book and featured on the BBC documentary. Her personal practice is concerned with psychology of place and people. She is currently part of The Manchester Red Eye Lightbox Residential as part of The Disparity Collective investigating themes of Power, mentored by Kate Jesson, Curator of Contemporary Art at Manchester City Art Gallery.
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