UK & World News
Artists Find New Use For Shuttered Shops
Artists are breathing life into the ailing British high street by displaying performance and installation works in unused shops.
The Rogues' Galleries project includes 15 pieces commissioned across Chester, which has some of the oldest shopping streets in the country.
The brief was to celebrate Chester's history as a shopping destination and the hope is the art will attract visitors as well as highlighting the issues of the high street at the same time as filling disused premises.
Amber Knipe, the Programme Manager at Chester Performs, the company behind the project, told Sky News the response has been very positive.
She said: "From the public's point of view it creates something different, something vibrant on the high street and it's opening up those spaces that have been sat empty, some of them for six years or so.
"There are no arts venues, so we as an organisation are always exploring and celebrating the different and unique features of the city and creating site specific work."
Katherina Radeva and Alister Lownie from Two Destination Language are two of the artists taking part. They have transformed one of the empty shops into a living room and are selling their possessions in exchange for cash and for stories, in part to explore the meaning of value.
Alister said: "The objects all have histories and we're interested in talking about them with people who come and visit us here and learning about them and sharing ourselves and about the way in which they perceive value to come to those objects or to be lost from them."
Carol Hanson has set up Chester's first pop-up cartoon laundrette, Florence and her Machines, and she told Sky News this type of initiative should be encouraged a lot more.
She said: "It's nice to see rather than an empty shop just a bit of interest there and I've had no budget. It's amazing what you can do with no budget and a bit of imagination."
Art Critic Richard Cork agrees that is could also encourage more people to enjoy art.
He said: "I think it's a great idea because we're so used to only having art in galleries or museums and a lot of people find that rather off-putting, even now.
"These museums they're rather grand and foreboding, whereas if you're walking down a high street and there's the shop that you've known all your life and you wander in and wow there's a whole new experience going on, something extraordinary and weird and wonderful, you don't even need to think of it as art, you can get the experience and then gradually get the whole point of art from that and I think that's really an excellent thing to do."
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