Pride of Place Projects: Overview

Pride of Place Projects:
Participatory projects exploring people’s relationship to place.

Pride of Place Projects are part exhibition, part reverse visitor information centre where it’s the visitors who provide the information. We devised the concept to accommodate people’s enthusiasm to participate in our explorations of regional  identity. Pride of Place Projects can be scaled up or down and adapted to any situation, frequently extending  beyond the confines of our caravan into temporary venues such as empty shops. Successful iterations to date include projects in Portsmouth, Oxford , Lytham St Annes, Liverpool, Wirral, Huntly, Guernsey and Wetteren in Belgium.

Our 2015 – 16 national Pride of Place Project Tour saw us working in partnership with six galleries and museums in Sunderland, Bradford, Cardiff, Preston, Middlesbrough and Southampton, with the support of an Arts Council England Strategic Touring grant, and our Sandwell Pride of Place Project commissioned by Multistory was a major component of Blast! Festival of Photography, Talks and Walks in 2019.

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Our aim is to create stimulating participatory exhibitions based on co-creation and collaboration with local people, many of whom have never been exposed to contemporary art or explored their surroundings in any detail. We begin by displaying a selection of our own photos of each area which act as a catalyst to get people talking and looking. Visitors can then contribute their own observations, creations and anecdotes to designated areas such as The People’s Map and The People’s Wall. We set up a Creation Zone for drop-in workshops, organise events such as talks and place-specific photography competitions and offer a platform to local residents, artists, writers, historians etc. who wish to respond to the area. We also devise a survey asking questions about each place we visit. We find that people love to share their views and enjoy reading completed surveys which we display on the walls of each exhibition.

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The importance of creating a social space where everyone feels welcome cannot be underestimated. Each project begins with a launch event to generate a buzz and ends with a closing celebration so that people can get together and see how the exhibition has evolved. The final display might contain drawings, paintings, sculpture, photographs, video footage, poems, handmade souvenirs, found objects, surveys etc.

Community cohesion plays an important role in PoPPs and we go out of our way to involve everyone from road sweepers to mayors; our inclusive approach succeeds in bringing together people who might otherwise have no engagement with the arts – or each other – and encourages them to take an active interest in where they live.