About High Street Stories
Between January and March 2021, Multistory developed High Street Stories, a digital community engaged arts programme that was developed with, and for, Wednesbury residents working with local artists. High Street Stories is part of the Wednesbury High Street Heritage Action Zone Programme funded by Sandwell Council and Historic England.
The programme explored the past, present and future of the town through a series of free, artist-led workshops, and the work created is now presented online via this website and through We Are Wednesbury, an interactive community map that outlines hidden histories and stories of the local area, drawing lines from the past and exploring new, collectively imagined possibilities for the future. The map was launched as part of an online event that shared artistic research from the project and explored themes of community, collaborative practice and rootedness within place.
Twelve artists (including four from Wednesbury and six from Sandwell) collaborated with local residents in digital workshops to share their stories, memories, hopes and dreams for Wednesbury. The artists were: Iain Armstrong, Keaton Barton, Maurice Bartosch, Grace Dore, Brendan Hawthorne, Sophie Huckfield, Marta Kochanek, Claire Leggett, Jo Loki, Denise Maxwell, Serena Patel and Emily Warner.
Thanks to Abigail, Shokat Ali, Qaisar Ali, Kwesi Agyemang, Hadi Ahmed, Marlon Amikie, Bradleigh Aston, Fiona Aston, Antony J. Ball, Sara Barczak, John Birchill, Dave Bott, Ian Bott, Iasaia, Christabelle & Christine Bunza, Brinley, Sandra Browns, Joseph Clarke, Dave Collins, Elaine Copson, Elaine Costigan, Bradleigh Cox, Craig, Katie Crane, Teresa Davies, Selamawit Dawit, Z and J Debrowski, Jimmy Dierden, Trevor Eades, Holly Edwards, Elaine Fitzgerald, Maureen Fowler, Gurtej Gill, Keith Gwilliams, Kate Grundy, Margaret Grundy, William Hall, Linda Hands, Jaiden Hands, Neil Hands, Lloyd Haughton, Beverley Harvey, Sonya Haughston, Lynn Hawthorne, Mavis Hawthorne, Ian Henery, Violet Heywood, Kathleen Homes, Carl Hopday, School children at Holyhead Primary, Matt Humphries, Pat Hunt, Jan Hurp, Pravin J, Brendan Jackson, Richard Johnson, Jordan, Temba Kadenhe, Mariyamu Kanteh, Daniel Kay, Dave Kilford, Sushil Kumar, Jarrad Lambie, Emma Lawley, Emma Lawson, Loribee, Molly Lenton-Taylor, Claire Livesey, School children at St Marys Primary, Nicole Marklew, Linda Matthews, Mike Maynard, Catherine Melnick, Brian and Lynne Neville, Jim Payne, Robert Payne, Anne Peck, Joshua Pritchett, Reema from Joua Foods, Evan Richards, Jamie K. Rhodes, Gugandeep Sandhu, Aaron Sheldon, Leslie Smith, Suzan Spence, Kydease Merchant Taylor, Michelle Timmins, Kallianne Titley, Mohammed Thoufee, Florence ‘Floss’ Trinder, Wayne Trinder, Rachael Vitins, Eileen L. Ward, David Wheatley, Dawn Winter, Margaret Wood, Sandie Wood, Claire Woodland, David Young.
Thank you to the Multistory Project Team; Creative Producer, Paige Jackson; Website Designer, Jacob Masters; and Creative Consultant, Graham Peet.
Thanks also to Samantha Goode and Dawn Winter (Wednesbury Library); Frank Caldwell and Alex Howell (Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery); Frances Land (Black Country Touring); Daniel Adesina; Mike Maynard; Paul Stringer; and Mapbox.
About the Artists
Iain Armstrong is a composer and sound designer based in Smethwick. His work spans music and sound design for theatre, dance and film; experimental electronic music; sound installation; site-specific soundwalks; podcasts; phonography; and live performance. Central to his practice, is an interest in the creative potential of recorded sound and encouraging people to engage in the act of listening. Recently he has been writing music for Humanhood dance, producing podcasts for She Wants A Dog and creating soundwalks with SOUNDkitchen.
As an emergent, socially engaged artist, Keaton Barton has formed a strong understanding of the importance of community, not only locally but globally. He documented the theatre groups at Belgrade Theatre, including their click Spring programme that uses theatre techniques to help improve the function skills for those living with dementia. His recent project ‘Pending’ aims to shed light on the on-going effects of Covid-19 on small local businesses; by using a range of hand manipulation techniques he aims to display empathy for those effected and ambiguity in regards to place. Keaton was a recipient of one of the two High Street Stories commissions for artists under 25.
Maurice Bartosch was born in Belgium and has been living in Tipton and Oldbury in the West Midlands for over 15 years. He has successfully achieved a Level 3 BTEC diploma from his local college. As an artist, he has documented the journey of TNCMC charity, and created a film titled ‘The Dyslexic Advantage’. As he has dyslexia himself and he took personal pride in being able to compose this narrative, with the goal of informing people about the various misunderstandings around individuals who have the condition. Maurice was a recipient of one of the two High Street Stories commissions for artists under 25.
Grace Dore lives life to the full; a photographer, writer and performance poet, an artist and grandmother whose passion for life and art is seen in her community and personal work. She loves working with people and communities to fulfil and enjoy their artistic potential. She hopes to broaden her work when she finishes her photography degree.
Poet, playwright, singer-songwriter, author, arts facilitator and comic compère, Brendan Hawthorne is a born and bred Black Countryman! He is widely published and has held several writing residencies throughout his career. He has made many television and radio appearances and was one of Anthony Gormley’s ‘Fourth Plinthers’. He currently holds the ‘Bill o Bowes’ national award for best written dialect.
Sophie Huckfield (she/her) is a cross disciplinary artist with a background in arts, design and engineering. She employs traditional and experimental modes of production such as: craft and making; moving image and lens based media; performance; workshops; and writings to deconstruct, subvert and interrogate metaphors and stories around class, making cultures, technological discourses and labour practices. Previously, she was the first female Engineering Technician for the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. Currently, she co-directs Ambience Factory and studiõ wê & üs.
With photography clients ranging from Royal Opera House and Birmingham Royal Ballet to The Times, The Telegraph and, the very local Black Country Living Museum, Marta Kochanek is a photographer who always concentrates on people. At the age of 30 she flew to New York to lead and manage work within archives and learn the industry secrets and technical aspects from one of the most reputable female photographers in the world, Annie Leibovitz. Marta’s signature cinematic lighting style has led her to be commissioned for advertising campaigns across the UK. It is also the style she applies to her multi-award-winning Fine Art Photography projects. She has just recently become Portrait of Britain 2020 Winner.
Claire Leggett is a colour, pattern and print loving painter and designer living in Birmingham, UK. Born in London and with a degree in Fashion & Textiles specialising in Print, she then trained as a Special Needs Primary school teacher, settled in Birmingham and raised a family – all of which took her away from her own art practice for some years. Now, alongside her own commercial practice of Painting and Surface Pattern Design, she also delivers workshops and creative opportunities for all ages in the Midlands.
Jo Löki is a visual artist with a passion for community stories, spaces and heritage. Building and reflecting narratives through photography, printmaking, drawing, text, mixed-media and installation, she collaborates with community members to engage local audiences and explore community identity. This engagement is demonstrated through diverse projects, artworks and installations: community portraits with historical research underpinning exploration of space, place and people.
Denise has been a full-time photographer for nearly 11 years, after leaving a successful career in the NHS to pursue photography. To date, this varied successful career has led to Denise having photographed some of the most well known people and events in the world including Barak Obama, Usain Bolt, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey. She has covered events such as London Fashion Week, The Brits and the BAFTAs and has a client list that includes the BBC, Gumtree, Uber and Armani. Her work has been published in Vogue, The Independent and The Guardian to name just a few and she has also been featured on BBC TV. Denise also teaches her own workshops / lessons and also is a visiting lecturer at Sandwell College and The University of Birmingham.
Serena Patel is currently a Masters student studying Future Media at Birmingham City University. Most of her background has been working in TV and film, from documentaries to feature films, as well as working on many amazing festivals such as the Birmingham Indian Film Festival. As a current Wednesbury resident for the past 14 years, she is excited to unpack the amazing stories the town has and to learn about its incredible communities.
Emily Warner is an artist, performance maker and facilitator. Prioritising process and collaboration they devise performative work that examines the interplay between body, movement and language. Tackling abundance and multiplicity with playful misrecognition, their work explores the reductive systems that shape how we function; pointing attention toward narratives that emerge from the margins. Using digital imagery, text, performance and sound they work in a collaborative way to depict multifaceted narratives relating to our sensory experience of space and place. Based in the West Midlands, and working online and offline, Emily has received commissions from Eastside Projects, Ikon Gallery, Fierce Festival and the University of Birmingham.
Multistory is a community arts organisation. We have been based in West Bromwich in the borough of Sandwell for 15 years and the people and place shape our work. We build meaningful connections between local communities and artists to produce creative projects that tell stories of everyday life. We believe in the power of art to reflect the times we live in and tell stories to bring people together.
We work with a wide range of communities, creatives and partners to reimagine the local area, platform under-represented voices and inspire creativity and social change. Our programme of participatory arts projects, workshops, talks and events takes place in libraries, community centres and indoor and outdoor public spaces. The stories told through our projects have a local resonance but are also seen by audiences far beyond, both in national exhibitions and through our digital programme. We support creatives through collaborative projects, employment, bursaries and skills development opportunities.