A national collection of 377 images that tell the stories behind the shopfronts on the English high street.
Picturing Coventry Market and City Arcade with Ayesha Jones, Photographer
Photographer Ayesha Jones documented the stories of stallholders at the heart of Coventry Market and City Arcade and the impact of modern developments on them.
Picturing Coventry collection
Photographs from Ayesha Jones's Coventry residency have entered the Historic England Archive, the nation’s archive for England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history. They are part of the new Picturing High Streets national photography collection.
Documenting stallholders at a time of change
In September 2023, Historic England and Photoworks added a commission for an artist working in England to create new photographs of their local high street. As well as the artist photographing their high street, this commission supported the artist's practice through mentoring with the Photoworks team and longer-term collaboration.
Ayesha Jones was awarded the commission and worked in the Coventry Market and City Arcade. She documented the stallholders and their experience of working there ahead of the closure of the City Arcade in 2024.
The City Arcade story captured in Ayesha's words and images
Ayesha Jones told us about her experience of the project: “The overall story captured in these images is the impact of the digital age and modern developments on independent, family run businesses that we have all grown up with.
"Our modern obsession with more, better and faster is killing the authentic and genuine human to human commerce that has existed for thousands of years before the modern age. Spaces where we could interact with other people, build relationships with our communities, happen upon unexpected conversations or insights.
"In these images there is a sense of quiet. I wanted to capture the sadness of the potential loss of these spaces and the ageing populations that still use them. I also wanted to reflect the diversity of Coventry.
"I chose to photograph stalls that I have bought from myself, or would buy from in the future. It is important for me to have some form of relationship with what I photograph, that connection is central to my practice. Due to my own life experiences and mixed heritage identity, the images I take will naturally reflect a diverse range of people and stories without it being forced.”
Ayesha’s images capture the soul of the Coventry Market and City Arcade. They are an important document of City Arcade, due to be demolished in 2024. It was great to work with Ayesha on this short commission.
Ayesha Jones is an artist based in the West Midlands. She works predominantly with photography and film and is interested in art as a catalyst for growth, healing and social impact.
Ayesha's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and she has won awards, including Magnum Photos and The Photography Show’s 30 under 30 international award, Portrait of Britain (2022 and 2023) and Decade of Change.
Ayesha's solo exhibition Motherland was exhibited as part of Coventry City of Culture 2021. She uses her family lineage as a mixed heritage person, to highlight the interconnected nature of identity, humanity, nature and all things.
Ayesha has recently worked on a commission with Ikon Gallery and Birmingham Hospice, exploring themes around ageing and end of life. Her work 'Leave A Light In My Room' was exhibited at Ikon Gallery in August 2023.
Jones is currently on commission with Multistory and Gaia Foundation for the campaign "Feeding The UK." Jones is also developing work around the relationship between emotion and the body, through the lens of living with Scoliosis, funded by Arts Council England.