Portrait of a man praying during Sunday worship at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara

21 Aug 2022
Guru Nanak Gurdwara and Sikh Cultural Centre, 61 Liverpool Road, Stoke-on-Trent, City of Stoke-on-Trent
Photograph (Digital)
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In 2022-23 Historic England commissioned several photographers to work with local communities to capture images representative of their local high streets. This formed part of the Picturing High Streets project. In Stoke, Natalie Willatt was commissioned as photographer. She wrote the following text to describe her work on the project: " 'Stoke' is derived from the Old English 'stoc', a word that at first meant little more than place, but which gained more specific connotations. These variant meanings included meeting place and place of worship. As Photographer in Residence in the historic town of Stoke, Natalie worked alongside diverse communities, each a part of the town, and each welcoming in to their places of congregation. With a focus on belief and faith, in its broadest sense, Natalie’s main interest is in the behaviours and gestures of people partaking in worship, music, football and heritage. In dancing with church goers at the close of a thanksgiving service; being one of many voices singing Delilah in the wake of a football win; observing a moment of quiet reflection over Diwali candles and in pausing to listen between bell rings, here Natalie has found moments of reflection, expressions of faith and a celebration of community. These photographs of congregation and union offer an alternative view to the commonly held idea of the deserted and neglected high street. Amidst dwindling footfall, a celebration of life can still be found behind closed doors." The following information was submitted by the photographer in relation to this image: "I attended various Sunday prayers at the Gurdwara. When you first enter the Gurdwara, you see a space lined with metal tables with a kitchen at the end. Food is prepared by volunteers and offered to everyone. It’s also customary for volunteers to come around half way through and offer you more, which is very hard to say no to as all the food tastes amazing. Usually after people have eaten, they head upstairs to pray. People walk to the front, say a prayer and make a donation. Since the very first time I entered the Gurdwara, I was obsessed with the ceiling tiles of the sky. I had started out by sitting at the back, but members of the congregation had let me know it was ok to go wherever I needed to encouraged me to sit nearer the front. I sat down level with where people were stopping to pray and managed to get a few images of people in prayer with the sky tiles framing them." 'Picturing England's High Streets' commission by GRAIN, Historic England and Photoworks.


This is part of the Job: HEC01/128/01/05/01 Picturing High Streets Photographer Residencies - Natalie Willatt: Stoke, Photographer's Images; within the Volume: HEC01/128/01/05 Picturing High Streets Photographer Residencies - Natalie Willatt: Stoke; within the Sub Series: HEC01/128/01 Picturing High Streets: Photographer Residencies; within the Series: HEC01/128 Picturing High Streets; within the Collection: HEC01 Historic England


© Natalie Willatt

People & Organisations

Photographer: Willatt, Natalie


People Posed, Religion