A national collection of 377 images that tell the stories behind the shopfronts on the English high street.
Dreamlines: Picturing Bristol High Streets
In spring 2023, Bristol Photo Festival commissioned local photographers to document the stories of their high streets and the communities inhabiting them. The results of these collaborations went on display in a series of 1-day exhibitions in the high streets in which they were made.
Picturing Bristol photography collection
A selection of the Dreamlines images have entered Historic England’s Archive, the nation’s archive for England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history, as part of the new Picturing High Streets national photography collection.
High street co-creations
Photographers from Bristol, or those with strong ties to the city, co-created work across Bristol’s historic high streets. This Bristol collection includes work by Khali Ackford, Michael Alberry, Sebastian Bruno, Jade Carr-Daley, Mohamed Hassan, Chris Hoare, Kirsty MacKay and Clementine Schneidermann.
They collaborated with writers, facilitators, businesses and the communities they depict, including the nearly 100-year-old Bakers Corner in Two Mile Hill, Shirehampton Men’s Social Club, Filton Avenue’s foodbank, the Shire Stitchers textile club, a young mum's group in Stapleton Road and Two Mile Hill’s Salvation Army brass band.
Clementine Schneidermann and the Shire Stitchers
Clementine Schneidermann collaborated with local textiles group the Shire Stitchers. The process began with Clementine creating portraits of group members. These photographs are being used as the basis for a series of new quilts. When viewed collectively, these quilts document the many women who call Shirehampton home.
Sebastian Bruno and Salvation Army brass band parade
Sebastian Bruno met with current members of the local Salvation Army Church, to re-stage the historic brass band parade which would bring together 10,000 local church members in the 1920s. On 10 July 2023 the band set off from the church along Two Mile Hill Road for the first time in recent memory, whilst Sebastian documented the parade.
Jade Carr-Daley and Stapleton Road mums
Jade Carr-Daley joined a group for young mothers that meets regularly on Stapleton Road to create a series of portraits as part of her ongoing exploration of Black motherhood. Her work is grounded in a desire to increase the visibility of women of colour, creating a sense of community between those with shared experiences of navigating motherhood and the changes it brings.
Mohamed Hassan with Stapleton Road communities
Mohamed Hassan collaborated with communities along Stapleton Road, creating a contemporary portrait of the neighbourhood. His process has involved both street portraiture, conducted during Eid celebrations, as well as organised portrait sittings which offered a space for reflection. In some instances, participants have annotated their images, adding their own voice to the process.
Jessie Edwards-Thomas and Kelly O'Brien
Jessie Edwards-Thomas collaborated with artist Kelly O’Brien to create two new projects. On East Street, they worked in collaboration with elders from Acta Community Theatre to explore local histories and stories. In Brislington they worked with local people to examine questions of place, identity, and the challenges of austerity.
Chris Hoare and Shirehampton Men’s Social Club
After coming across a photograph of Shirehampton Men’s Social Club taken in 1951, Chris Hoare felt compelled to create a record of the club today in order to better understand how Shirehampton has changed over the last 70 years. He has collaborated with the club to create contemporary portraits of its members. Chris has also spent time making portraits along Shirehampton High Street. Collectively, his photographs illustrate Shirehampton as a living community that continues to evolve and adapt as circumstances change.
Esther May-Campbell and the Church Road community
Esther May-Campbell's project led to powerful black and white portraits of the community of Church Road. She collaborated with shop owners, businesses or community centres to produce a record of a place and a time inspired by August Sander's 'Face of Our Time'.
Khali Ackford and Two Mile Hill
Khali Ackford explored the everyday hidden heritage in Two Mile Hill. Many businesses there have historic roots, including Bakers Corner which has been in place for nearly 100 years, and The Nylon Shop, a haberdashers operating for over 60 years. Khali's work for this project also involved the pupils from Two Mile Hill Primary School.
Yuko Edwards with community growing spaces
Yuko Edwards worked with local community members to explore the relationships between urban and rural, community growing spaces and the local high street, as well as the history of Stockwood as a place and community.
Kirsty MacKay and food bank clients
Kirsty Mackay has continued her long-term work on the impact of the cost of living crisis on local communities. She began by interviewing local food bank clients, before using their stories to create a new body of photographic work.
I wanted to get peoples’ experiences and their voices out there into the public domain. So I wrote their words across the high street on bus shelters and across the pavements. It is an imperfect, but urgent response.
Michael Alberry with Filton communities
Photographer Michael Alberry dedicated his time to walking in Filton, covering high streets, side streets, parks and informal public spaces. Moving at a pace that allows for surprise encounters, he has created a contemporary portrait of Filton today and the many people who call this place home.
Michael also worked with students from Filton Primary School to explore the idea of monuments. He began by asking, what do we choose to remember, and what do we often forget? And what would it mean to create monuments to remember seemingly everyday experiences? The students created monuments to waste collection, friendship, peace, and falling.
Lua Ribeira with Stapleton Road community groups
Lua Ribeira worked with young community members, embracing her experiences of chance encounters on Stapleton Road. She made her images during a series of walks, slowing the pace at which she usually engages with the high street.
Mikael Techane and Filwood Community Centre
Mikael Techane worked with participants from Filwood Community Centre to create a collective portrait of Filwood, focusing on themes of belonging, identity and change. Inspired by the crossroads of identity, environment, heritage and culture, Mikael's work champions the untold stories of those around him.
Over 2 weekends in September 2023, Bristol Photo Festival organised a series of outdoor exhibitions and events in the high streets in which the projects took place. Please click the gallery images below to enlarge.
Dreamlines: Picturing Bristol High Streets was organised by Bristol Photo Festival which will return to the city in 2024.
The project was funded by Historic England as part of its four-year programme of cultural activity celebrating England’s high streets. It is also one of the activities under the City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme, funded by Bristol City Council and the West of England Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets project.