Volume: Picturing High Streets Photographer Residencies - Ayesha Jones: Coventry

6 Nov 2023
Volume containing Electronic material
Placeholder image for archive collection
Not what you're looking for? Try a new search


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 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 artists photographing their high street, this commission supported the artists practice through mentoring with the Photoworks team and longer-term collaboration. Ayesha Jones was selected and worked in the Coventry Market and City Arcade. She documented the stall holders and their experience of working there ahead of the closure of the City Arcade in 2024. She wrote the following description of her work: "I spent time in Coventry Market and City Arcade (just next to Coventry Market). I spoke to stall holders in the market and those who had been there for over 20 years commented on how things have changed. I first spoke with a man on The Flower Kiosk, his dad had owned the stall before him and when he left school he was expected to work on the stall with his dad and has been there ever since, over 25 years. He said things have changed over the years, less people come to the market now, I commented on the rise in online shopping and he agreed that people have a lot more options now. But he still enjoys the human interaction he gets working in the market.

I then spoke with Lalla on the fabric stall. She was standing in for her mom who was not feeling well that day, so was resting at home. Lalla is studying health care at University at the moment but is really passionate about fashion. I said that it sounds like she is following in her moms footsteps, she laughed and agreed. They have only had their stall for a few years so couldnt comment on the change in the market.

I then visited a stall that sells bits and bobs; hats, make up, clothes, gloves etc. The gentleman there said things have changed a lot over the years in the market, there are less customers and a lot more diversity. He then commented and said it is actually that diversity that has kept the market going. He has two stalls next to each other one selling hats and gloves and other bits and another selling beauty items, the stall selling beauty items use to be run by his wife but now he manages them both.

When visiting City Arcade. There are only a handful of shops still open. City Arcade is due to be demolished in 2024 (was going to be 2023 but the date keeps getting pushed back) so a lot of businesses have moved on, in preparation. Sukhbinder is one of the few business owners still going. He owns an off licence. He said that he will not move now, he is too old to start all over again. So, when City Arcade is demolished he will be forced to retire.

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 1000’s 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. When choosing which stalls to photograph I chose 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." 'Picturing England's High Streets' commission by Historic England and Photoworks.


This is part of 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

This Volume is divided into 6 Child Records
This Volume contains the following materials:
Photograph (Digital): 6


© Ayesha Jones

People & Organisations

Creator of Archive: Jones, Ayesha