Talking shop portrait
Photo: Vaishakhi Chhotai-Doshi (The Heroes of Audley Range)

Artists: Kaspar Wimberley & Martina von Holn

In March 2009 we were invited by Mid Penine Arts and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to come and spend a two-week ‘Talking Shop’ residency in Audley Range, Blackburn.

During our stay we gave shopkeepers the chance to reflect on their business and its position within the community. We lost count of the number of times we must have walked up and down the length of Audley Range, collecting, recording and piecing together the past, present and future perspectives of the shopkeepers that we met. From the freshest spices, to vintage videos and handmade cakes, each shop was a unique experience, personified by a wonderful variety of friendly, knowledgeable and committed individuals. Some have been working their trade for as long as they can remember, while others have reinvented themselves over and over again. Some have big plans for the future, while others seem happy with the way it is.

Our two-week stay in Audley Range culminated in a small intervention. At 8pm on Thursday the 5th of March shopkeepers in Audley Range were invited to come together and create a group portrait. They took their place in the middle of the busy main road as the traffic was temporarily brought to a standstill. At least 28 different businesses were represented in the photograph.

We left Audley Range with a great deal of respect for the shopkeepers we had spoken to, individuals who invest a lot of time, energy and pride into the running of their business. It might be that they can’t help it, or that they just want to carve out a living, but they are still providing a valuable service to the community. In conclusion we decided to create a new publication titled ‘The Heroes of Audley Range’, bringing together a collection of 44 voices that form part of today’s Audley Range business community.

We hope that our work starts to sow the seeds of an idea, the idea of being together, recognising oneself as part of a collective and fostering a sense of pride in this identity. Looking to the future we hope that this could lay the foundations for a new business forum in the area. The photograph resulting from the intervention and a copy of the publication have been distributed to participating shopkeepers, as a lasting memento of both the event and the process of reflection that resulted from our presence in Audley Range.


Publication (Text only) – coming soon
Publication ‘The Heroes of Audley Range’ (Low resolution preview)
Initial project report submitted to the local council and supporting bodies

If you would like a hard copy of the publication please contact Mid Penine Arts


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