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New Langdale Photographers visit Showtown Museum

A group of diverse photographers from Blackpool headed to the new Showtown Museum. Here they tell us what they made of it.

The New Langdale Photographers are a group of diverse photographers who have been established for nine years. Most recently we have been exploring the architecture of Blackpool borough Architect JC Robinson whose work was prolific through the 1920s to 40s. Our group is as much about exploration and a social experience as it is about photography. A couple of Thursdays ago we visited the new Blackpool Showtown Museum.

We arrived early doors at the museum accompanied by photographers Claire Griffiths and Donna Hannigan who have been collaborating with us on our exhibition, networking and opening up new relationships through our photography. In attendance were Bradley, Jasmine, Isla, Tony, Dawn and Jackie and our support workers Jayne and Anna. We were greeted by the most friendly staff who quickly created a conversation around what we might need as a diverse group and we were presented with a bag filled with ear defenders to soften the sounds that we might come across inside the space. Included in the bag was also comforting, sensory items in the shape of a plush seagull. A large lift transported us to the entrance which was completely accessible for the whole group including Jasmine, our wheelchair user.

Jasmine - New Langdale Photographer in clown collar inside museum

A week or so earlier we had discussed how much we would like to visit The Tower Ballroom so the invitation to Showtown was thrilling to us. We entered the warm throng of the museum space and noticed donkeys, seagulls and huge ice creams suspended from the ceiling. Interactive exhibitions displayed fortune tellers and famous imagery related to cinema, music and sideshows. Inside Showtown, Jimmy Hendrix lives in collage form on top of Funny Girls with vintage text in glowing colours.

We did find a lot going on and took a while to adjust to our surroundings and with the help of fantastic customer service we were able to get a larger fit for Bradley’s ear defenders. Isla who has a fear of birds soon settled in once she realised that the suspended seagulls meant her now harm and we even got our own host in the form of a Circus Ringmaster. The Ringmaster delighted our group, encouraging dressing up in a variety of circus costume which was followed by hilarious giggles. We saw fluffy gigantic spiders and the iconic Sooty and Sweep.

We dressed up as clowns alongside a baby elephant and Mooky The Clown and we followed The Ringmaster through The Circus arena. Here we found our new roles as circus performers as a target for a knife thrower, a tightrope walker balancing high above the crowds and balancing juggling clubs to take selfies and images of each other. We fell about laughing, enjoying the history of the place that we all call home, cheering each other on as we honked the horn in the clowns car which would take us on an adventure to the Illuminations.

We did not want to let go of our clown costumes but as a group we happily took on our new role in the Illuminations space after using the “big switch” to turn them on. Jackie ensured that she got her favourite character onto an illumination – we looked up at the screen and there he was, the Time Squad cartoon character Buck Tuddrussel! We spent a lot of time in this space, trying out various digital tools and thrilled as our designs ended up on the massive screen as if part of the Illuminations. We even donned hard hats and hi vis vests!

We spent around two hours at Showtown and still felt like we had only skimmed the surface. Walking past Orville we tried out the puppets and our voice throwing techniques, before picking up George Formby’s ukulele and programming a show and hitting the dance floor. We danced The Charleston, Northern Soul and we Raved underneath The Syndicate sign for quite a while. We enjoyed finding new ways to express ourselves and feel part of history. Thank you to Showtown for the warm welcome, we felt thoroughly looked after by our Circus Ringmaster, the man who worked painting the Tower, the customer service staff and the space in general. We will be back for more adventures.

Images by Isla, Bradley, Jasmine, Tony, Dawn, Jackie and Claire. Find out more about The New Langdale Photographers hereย  https://newlangdalephotographers.com/

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