Gallery 2 May 13th – June 10th 2006
Peter Kelly’s work uses photography, text, and objects to examine life in what was once designated as “the worst street in England”, Century Street in Stoke, in which the artist lived for one year. It chronicles instances of crime, destitution and dereliction, yet places these in their context, and looks within them for elements of the tragic and the absurd.
ST1 5HY is based on my experience of living on no.77 Century Street between 16th Sept 2003 – 29th May 2004. It started life as a purely photographic project even though I had never attempted, or been particularly interested in, documentary photography. But as life and events unfolded I felt there was an opportunity to pursue this style of photography. I chose to photograph mainly between 6 and 7am as I didn’t want people in the frame, I was more interested in the evidence that there had been a human presence there.
It was important to not simply condemn the street in its present standing, but to research into its past to uncover clues as to how it ended up as statistically the worst street in England and Wales. The research included Census records, ordinance survey maps and business directories. The more information I gathered the more the need to refine this data into a relevant way that connected the past with the present.
My interest started to focus on the 12 (the 13th being no.77) houses that are abandoned, vandalised, for sale and empty. At the same time I began experimenting decorating pottery with images from the ongoing photographic project. This not only connected the project to Stoke-on-Trent, but also very specifically to Century Street. There where two ceramic factories situated on the street from the early 1800’2 to the mid-1900’s. The ceramics also gave me a medium on which to place the various strands of research, which now included recording dialogue from the street.
ST1 5HY does not seek to judge, but to present my own experiences of living on Century Street along with over 150 years of human and industrial history in a coherent and accessible manner.
Exhibitions previews at 8pm, Saturday 13 May
Exhibition runs until June 10