Fill The Frame at Preston Markets
8 February 2024
New photography display from talented local creatives.
Exploring the connection between art and community, Preston Markets unveils a captivating new image display curated by passionate local photographer and event organiser Garry Cook.
We caught up with Garry to find out more about Preston's creative community, how he is excited to represent them, to encourage up and coming artists and inspire the people of Preston to be proud of their local creative community.
Hi Garry, can you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background in event organising and photography?
I put on theatre and performance events all over the North West but mostly in Preston. As well as organising theatre and spoken word shows at venues like The Ferret, The Stanley Arms, Vinyl Tap and The Continental. I also run Lancashire Fringe Festival and the UK's biggest outdoor photography festival, Lancashire Photography Festival. The shows vary from some of the best poets in the country to the type of funny, unique performance you get at Edinburgh Fringe festival - in fact a lot of the shows which come to Preston are up at the Fringe as well.
'I want as many people as possible to see art in Preston - having the frames on display at Preston Markets is perfect.'
It sounds like you're a busy man. What inspired you to initiate this new photography display at Preston Markets?
I recently curated the 'Art on the Streets of Preston' which displayed the work of 30 Preston artists on hoardings covering the site of the former BHS shop. That was hugely successful, so I wanted to do something similar - but this time using the three triangular frames which were built for the 2023 photography festival, which was funded by Lancashire County Council's crowdfunding campaign.
I can see that you are very passionate about local art. What selection process did you use for these 'Fill The Frame' images provided by local artists?
Any type of art could be submitted - with the only stipulation that it can be printed big enough to fit the frames. I did a call out on social media and received 50 fantastic submissions. I'm a member of The Brewtime Collective which is a self-organised network of independent creative and cultural practitioners in Preston, so I asked the core group to pick their favourite. The ones with the most votes were selected.
'People can be sceptical of art and culture - but you can't deny how it can change people's perception of place and increase pride in a community.
Very democratic! There is certainly a variety of images which represent Preston's creative scene. What kind of impact are you hoping the display will have on the local community and market visitors?
People can be sceptical of art and culture - but you can't deny how it can change people's perception of place and increase pride in a community. Projects like this do exactly that - give people pride in where they come from. Showing local artists' work also gives others a belief that they can be artists too - I think that is a hugely important realisation. I hope this project can inspire people and make them feel proud of how creative Preston is, even if they don't see it all the time.
How do you foresee this display fostering a sense of community engagement and local pride?
I want as many people as possible to see art in Preston - having the frames on display at Preston Markets is perfect. They will be seen by thousands of people every day. I'm hoping that the images will put a smile on people's faces, and they can feel pride in Preston.
The people of Preston have a lot to be proud of. Displays such as this are commonplace in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, it's fantastic to see this kind of thing in Preston and Preston Markets is the perfect location, at the heart of the city.
Are there any collaborative efforts or partnerships involved in making this display of local art possible?
I was delighted when Preston Markets said they would display the frames - it's a great feeling when someone is so enthusiastic about a project like this. The other collaborators were the people of Preston who pledged money in the crowdfunder. So many people donated money to the project - it simply would not have happened without them. And of course, the Lancashire County Council's Sport and Culture Fund team who launched the crowdfunding project.
Can you highlight any unique or standout features of the chosen art and how they resonate with the market's setting?
The chosen nine art works are hugely diverse. There are photographs in the selection but even these vary hugely, from well-known Preston locations to a beautiful abstract photographic pattern. There is graphic design and surreal paintings. All nine together look fantastic - their diversity mirrors the market which is full of stalls and traders selling hugely different products.
Are there any plans for similar initiatives within Preston?
I don't know what will happen in the future. Preston has benefited from Lancashire Photography Festival in that these frames were paid for by that project. They can be filled with any art - so I hope other organisations might come forward and use them. I'm already talking with Preston Caribbean Carnival about displaying some images in the frames to help them celebrate their 50th year.
Lastly, what message or experience do you hope attendees take away from visiting Preston Markets during this unique display period.
I'd love people to see this unique art and be proud of Preston and appreciate this unique exhibition, displayed in specially built frames which can't be found anywhere else in the world. Having the art on display outdoors means that these images will be Preston's biggest exhibition this year, seen by more people than any other arts event or exhibition in the city. That is what I am most proud of.
'Fill The Frame' is now installed beneath the Box Market canopy. Come along and see the new images, support your local community and shop local at Preston Markets.
Artist: Becky Atherton
About the artwork: Female reformers at Peterloo were brutally attacked by the military, which seemed to be incited by a sense of manhood being in serious threat from this female presence.
Bio: Becky is a Lancashire artist and has just completed her MA at UCLan. She uses a surrealist/fantasy style to challenge the materialistic patriarchal society we live in, by providing an alternative.
Artist: John Threlfall
Title: Preston city skyline at sunrise
About the Artwork: This image of Preston Skyline with the spire of St Walburge's Church as a central point was taken from the new link road to the M55.
Bio: John has worked as a graphic designer in Preston for 18 years. Last year he won the seascape category in the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year Award.
Artist: Daniel Dunleavy-Welsh
Title: Miller Arcade
About the artwork: This is a photograph I took a year ago of the Miller Arcade.
Bio: Daniel is a student at the University of Central Lancashire and was born here in Preston. He enjoys taking photographs of buildings and spaces around Preston.
Artist: Lisa Brown
Title: Creeping up to Midwinter
About the artwork: One cold Saturday evening in December a fog descended on Preston, I was out with my camera and caught this shot. I shared it on social media and the man, who is in the photo, got in contact and said 'I think that's me!'
Bio: Lisa was born in Preston, she lives and works in the city as a photographer.
Artist: John Davey
Title: 3 Fishes
About the artwork: This is of one of the prints from a limited-edition, two-colour lino print of a matchbox that I created - the image on the prints is only 7.5cm x 11cm.
Bio: Having originally trained and worked as an illustrator many years ago, John who was born and raised in Preston now enjoys spending his spare time lino printing.
Artist: Chris Darley
Title: The Brutalist Chaplin
About the artwork: The juxtaposition of modern and old times in an iconic Preston setting.
Bio: Chris was born in Lytham and now lives in Kirkham. He says that his spiritual photographic hometown is Preston and has been for over 20 years now. The people, the places and the experiences make it special.
Artist: Russell Wood
Title: A Sight for Sore Eyes
About the artwork: I have titled the artwork 'A Sight for Sore Eyes' as the black and white lines from the background leads you into the subject however the contrasting lines from the dress create an illusion forcing you to glance away or to avert your gaze.
Bio: Russell has worked in Preston as a Civil Servant for 25 years and has lived in Preston for the last 16 years.
Artist: Jo Garrett
Title: Water Gram
About the artwork: Analogue experimental monochrome darkroom print, exposed using light and water. Developed using traditional darkroom processes and chemistry.
Bio: Jo is an analogue photographer who merges experimental and historical darkroom processes. She was born and raised in Preston.
Artist: Abigail Lewis
Title: Watching You
About the artwork: This piece is based on the theme of surveillance, always feeling watched by the wandering abstract eyes that follow us.
Bio: Abigail produced this piece for the exhibition 'Eyes on Preston' open call by Blaze Art in 2019 and it was displayed at the Harris Museum. She is a local Textile Artist, based in Leyland.
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