‘Mapping Kirkby’s Past’ is a series of striking photographs of Kirkby taken by John Wakefield in the 1980s and 1990s on display in the ARK exhibition space (in Kirkby Library) until Thursday 24 May.
John Wakefield has been a volunteer photographer with the ARK (Knowsley’s archives) since the HLF funded programme to develop the borough’s archive got underway three years ago.
His role has been to document the activities and people involved in various community history projects, providing both a record for the archives and a key part in project exhibitions.
In turn the programme has helped John to develop his skills by giving him a tailored brief for each project and tasking him with capturing the people involved in delivering the projects that uncover the borough’s fascinating history.
Paula Williams, Head of Culture and Libraries, said:
“It’s fantastic that so many committed volunteers have been involved in the community projects and John Wakefield has been involved right from the beginning. John’s been completely dedicated and has captured many photographs that have documented the projects beautifully. It’s wonderful that the projects have given John the opportunity to develop his style of photography and his involvement is a great example of what the volunteers gain from being part of the programme.
“John is a talented photographer and he has been capturing his home town of Kirkby on film since the early 1980s. Giving John the opportunity to showcase some of his own catalogue of photographs seemed like the most appropriate way to acknowledge his commitment and enthusiasm over the three year programme and to thank him for all his hard work.”
John Wakefield, said:
“I first got into photography in the early 1980s when I started taking pictures of the site where the Malayan Teacher Training College once stood in the 1950s. By the 1980s the site was in a poor condition and I wanted to take some photographs before it was gone altogether. The idea to capture the local environment, and particularly buildings in decline or being demolished has inspired me ever since.
“I was interested in getting involved in the ARK projects because I realised they would allow me to develop my photography. I’d not photographed activities and events before and I’ve really enjoyed doing this. I’ve gained skills and experience through the projects which I have incorporated and will continue to use in my future photography.”
Photographs in the exhibition
The photo of the ‘Lady on the Bridge’ is John’s personal favourite and forms a stand-alone centre piece of the exhibition. His other photos are grouped together by location:
Ranshaw Court, Tower Hill
John lived in Mosscroft, Tower Hill in the early 1980’s and these were his local shops which formed the ground floor of Ranshaw Court.
Whitefield Square, Westvale
John photographed the square in 1991 inspired by the shapes and lines of the shops and buildings.
Broad Lane, Southdene
These photographs record the demolition of two tower blocks along Broad Lane in 1999.Gaywood Green Heights are further along the road and still standing today.
Kirkby Town Centre
John’s photographs are of the town centre after hours in the early 1990s at the end of the working day.
The exhibition has been designed by Chris Edwards who also began as an ARK volunteer to document the different projects through creative art and design. Chris has gone on to design exhibitions professionally. Both men have a mutual appreciation for each others’ creative talents and were thrilled to collaborate for this exhibition.
Meet the creatives
John Wakefield and Chris Edwards will both attend the exhibition on Tuesday 15 May from 1pm for a special session where they will talk about their creative inspirations and the work involved in producing the exhibition.
‘Mapping Kirkby’s Past’ is on display in the ARK exhibition space in Kirkby Library, the Kirkby Centre, from Thursday 26 April to Thursday 24 May 2018.
More of John’s photography is available to view on his Flickr site.