How empty shops are being turned into art

The Firstsite building will host the launch of Some Questions About Colchester on March 13. Picture:

The Firstsite building will host the launch of Some Questions About Colchester on March 13. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Colchester’s empty shops will be turned into works of art in a new exhibition opening this weekend.

Artist Mark Titchner has produced a new series of public artworks - Some Questions About Colchester - with people in the town putting their thoughts on the ancient town into pieces that will then be displayed in the windows of unused commercial spaces.

The vibrant graphic art, all posing questions submitted by members of the public, will be unveiled after the launch at Firstsite on Friday March 13.

Titchner said: 'I spoke to a lot of different groups across Colchester, some were open invitations at Firstsite and others were to see community groups, but they all had a lot say about the town.

'Some of it was very positive, some of it was more critical, but I've worked hard to represent as much as I could, that was the important thing.

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'They are all designed to provoke a thought or conversation.

'You can't predict what people will have the biggest reaction to, but I am interested to see if perceptions of the work changes over time.'

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To create the work, Mark asked Colchester residents what the biggest issues in the town were and turned that into a question.

The issues could have been personal, local or international, but all needed to reflect aspects of life in the town.

He said: 'From these conversations I have developed a series of linked artworks, displayed in vacant shop units that confront the viewer with a direct question that relates to life in Colchester today.'

The artworks have made specifically for each shop window, which include the former locations for Superdrug in Priory Walk, Geller Butchers in St John's Street, Sloppy Joes in the High Street, Thorntons in Trinity Street, Clarks in Culver Square and 39a Head Street.

Some Questions about Colchester is funded by the Business Improvement District (BID), Our Colchester. Our Colchester manager Sam Good said: 'We launched our Vacant Unit Vision early 2019.

'Stage one of our vision has been our partnership with Firstsite and Mark Titchner and we are over the moon at the level of engagement with Mark and members of the public who have taken part in the consultation process to assist in the creation of this work.'

Firstsite director Sally Shaw said: 'A vital part of our Firstsite mission is to bring the community into the heart of our exhibitions, making art that is relevant to local people and that helps us all to think imaginatively and create solutions to make lasting positive change - Some Questions about Colchester does just that.'

An event to celebrate the unveiling of the works takes place at Firstsite on March 13, 5.30-7.30pm.

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