A woman passing an outdoor exhibition, pushing a pram, turns her head to keep looking at an image as she continues on past.
Photoworks’ past work has included staging outdoor exhibitions including the one shown here in Worthing 2020 © Rosie Powell
Photoworks’ past work has included staging outdoor exhibitions including the one shown here in Worthing 2020 © Rosie Powell

Picturing England's High Streets

Picturing England's High Streets is a major commission with six artists, selected via open call undertaking residencies at high street locations across England.

The selected photographers are using a socially-engaged approach, working alongside local communities to create a contemporary portrait of England's high streets between now and 2024. The images they produce will become part of the Historic England Archive.

A three-year project on six high streets

The three-year project is delivering six photographer-in-residence programmes at six high street locations across England, as well as artist mentoring and a digital nationwide mass participation project.

Users of the high streets and the community are at the heart of Picturing England’s High Streets, and each selected photographer has a link to the local high street area.

To host each residency, Photoworks and Historic England have partnered with photography organisations across England, including:

Each of the six photographers will also benefit from mentoring support delivered by Impressions Gallery, PARC (Photography and the Archive Research Centre), Redeye The Photography Network, ReFramed and The Photographers’ Gallery.

The Photoworks commission is part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme, led by Historic England.

Picturing England’s High Streets is an ambitious and long-running photography commission, that aims to get under the skin of our high streets and capture people’s hopes and dreams. To see this cohort of exceptional photographers come together is truly exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing them bring this commission to life.

Tamsin Silvey, Cultural Programme Curator Historic England

Artists chosen for the photographic residencies

Tim Mills, Coventry

Tim Mills is working with GRAIN Projects in Coventry and local partners the Historic Coventry Trust, Culture Coventry, Coventry University, Coventry City Council and Coventry City of Culture Trust. Mills uses photography and reappropriated archive material to explore and engage with communities and place. His work is often presented as installations within public contexts and outdoor locations.

From the stories of my Dad’s red velvet wedding suit purchased on the Burges, my Mum’s performances at The Coventry Theatre on Hales Street, to my Aunt providing blindfolded mystery tours of the city in a wheelbarrow during the 1950’s, Coventry has always been central to my family’s history. My work explores photographic archives, memory, community and place and what that means for our future, so I am thrilled by the creative potential of this project during a significant moment for the city.

Tim Mills

Natalie Willatt, Stoke

Natalie Willatt is working in her hometown of Stoke, with GRAIN Projects and partners including Stoke-on-Trent City Council, B Arts and the communities of the town’s high street and the Spode factory site. Willatt uses photography to provide access to the arts and to empower people to use creative practices to tell their own stories.

From growing up in Stoke, to now working and photographing in the community arts sector in the area, I have always known how interesting the people that populate this city are. I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to empower local residents in my home town to have agency in telling their own stories through photography.

Natalie Willatt

Suzanne St Clare, Chester

Open Eye Gallery is supporting established photographer Suzanne St Clare, who is working with various communities in Chester from 2021-2024. Adding to this, during 2021/22, emerging photographer Ciara Leeming is developing work with a local community group. Both will receive additional support from Cheshire West and Chester Council.

I am delighted that Chester will be part of Picturing England's High Streets with Open Eye Gallery. We're really looking forward to working with photographers Suzanne and Ciara and the team in enabling the voices of our local communities to be part of the city’s stories.

Councillor Louise Gittins Cheshire West and Chester Council

Tony Mallon, Prescot

Open Eye Gallery is supporting established photographer Tony Mallon who is working with Prescot communities from 2021 – 2024. During 2021/22, emerging photographer Lucy Hunter is also developing work with a local community group. Both will receive additional support from The Shakespeare North Playhouse.

We are so excited to be partnering with Tony and Lucy over the coming months and years, especially as we build up to the opening of The Shakespeare North Playhouse in summer 2022 and celebrate Knowsley’s Borough of Culture. Their ideas around enabling others to explore self-expression through photography is a strong foundation for empowering the thriving creative communities of Prescot and allows us to further explore our position as one of Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones.

Laura Collier, Creative Director and Programmer Shakespeare North Playhouse

Rehan Jamil, Tower Hamlets

Photofusion is supporting local artist Rehan Jamil who is working with and documenting the communities of Tower Hamlets. Jamil is exploring the relationship between the community and the high street, Petticoat Lane, and the East End to see how it has evolved over time and share their local future aspirations.

We are delighted to be working with Rehan Jamil, an artist who grew up in Tower Hamlets and who has an innate understanding of the area and the people who live and work there. We look forward to supporting Rehan to develop as an artist and a socially engaged practitioner.

Kim Shaw, Director Photofusion

Khatun, Leicester

QUAD/FORMAT is working with emerging artist Khatun in their hometown of Leicester. During the two-year residency Khatun is collaborating with leading cultural partners in the city and diverse communities in the Leicester High Streets Heritage Action Zones area of Church Gate and Granby Street. Khatun’s work explores modern Britain’s identity and past notions of heritage and heritage sites.

Communities have always been at the forefront of my creative practice. Having been born and bred in the same house, on the same street, in Leicester, for 19 years, instilled a deep sense of love for my city and for my surroundings. My intentions for my artistic endeavours remained consistent: to create participatory art that is engaging, liberating, and for it to carry a love of and for people and communities.


Supported by

HM Government
National Lottery
Arts Council