Imagine Hillfields Exhibition
Summer 2015 saw our exhibition of images of Hillfields at Fargo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry, CV1 5ED. Check out #imaginehillfields for the images we’ve tweeted. Below are a few internal shots of the exhibition, using OSB board to create false walls in the Box, FarGo Village.
There are two exhibition spaces at FarGo Village as part of our exploration into the visions that have changed Hillfields in the post-war period.
The first space is the Box (left) and is an exhibition of five major photographers; John Blakemore, Richard Sadler, Masterji, Jason Scott Tilley and Nick Stone. Each has photographed Hillfields and its people in the post war period. An exhibition that brings them together shows this transformation across people and place. Below is a small selection of these images.
Jason Scott Tilley has photographed the current residents of Hillfields in a response to John Blakemore’s earlier work, below. Jason has family roots in Hillfields (and India) and knows Hillfields from his youth and as a photographer on the Coventry Evening Telegraph. He was co-funded by Imagine, Heritage Lottery and Arts Council to spend six months getting to know people in the area, discussing the project and gaining support and trust. The four below represent a small selection of his work:
Nick Stone is a re-photographer from Norwich who uses the ghosting technique to directly challenge the past and present by bringing them together in the same image. His other work, visible on his website, has addressed issues including bomb damage and the first world war. Nick worked with Hillfields History Group to ghost the past into the present. The Hillfields History Group chose the locations of the ghosts that represent some of the interesting places in Hillfields, including Primrose Hill Street, featured below, Eli Green’s Triangle and Far Gosford Street.
Masterji as he became known, arrived in England in 1950 on a passenger ship that left the Indian port of Mumbai on December 31st and reached Liverpool on January 21st 1951. His most prized possession that travelled with on his journey from sea to Coventry was a photograph of his mother that he had taken with a Kodak box camera in India.
Alongside family and friends he worked in the GEC factory in Coventry but he also joined the Coventry Photographic Society. During his early years in England he used a Box Brownie to take photographs of friends. He was then asked to photograph visits from the High Chancellor of India as well as sports events, functions and weddings. This led to evening classes in photography at Lanchester College before going on to his night shift at the factory.
In 1962 Master was joined by his wife Ramaben. During the time before his wife’s arrival he had decided that he would be a photographer. He visited Tayler Brother’s Photography Studio in 1962 where he became friends with John Blakemore who worked there at the time.
From photographing in the front room of his house, he bought a property on Stoney Stanton Road and in 1969 set up his photography business Master’s Art studio which is run today by his son.
Below are a selection of images chosen by his daughter Tarla from an archive of thousands of negatives:
Richard Sadler was born in Hillfields and became Coventry’s most well known photographer during the 1950s to the 1980s, taking photographs of the rich and famous as they came to the Belgrade Theatre to perform or sit in the audience, or were in glossy magazines surrounded by the finery of their homes. In later life he became Professor of Photography at Derby University.
In 1951 he photographed his grandmother, Minnie Sadler, as she went around Hillfields over the course of a day, from her home at 11 Bath Street (which was near Swanswell Street and Stoney Stanton Lane but was demolished to make way for the flats) and out and about. These images have never been seen before in public exhibition.
John Blakemore spent his youth in and around Hillfields before moving to Vernon Street with his young family in the early 1960s, working at Tayler Brothers Studios and harbouring ambitions to be a social documentary photographer. His images of Hillfields from the 1960s show an area still blighted by post war clearance and poverty, despite twenty years having passed and many promises from Coventry City Council to arrest the blight. John moved away shortly after taking these. He became Britain’s foremost master printer and Professor of Photography at Derby University where he succeeded Richard Sadler.
The exhibition at the Box will host around 100 images from these five amazing photographers. They are to challenge our perceptions about the area and raise questions about the need for change, what form it takes, and whose voices articulate the vision.
The partner space at Urban Coffee will host events and discussions over the course of the three weeks of exhibiting. It will also have images of Hillfields curated by the Hillfields History Group to provide an illustrative and powerful backdrop to discussions and debate.
Hillfields is an amazing place. August 11th to 31st 2015 at FarGo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry.