In 1986, artist Yvonne Talbot and author Allene Norris produced a book called The Market, which became a local bestseller. Capturing the vibrancy and atmosphere of the time, reflecting on its sense of place within the town’s social and economic history, they documented (in both a written and visual format), the personal stories of the traders, their line of work and included some of the characters who were the customers of the day. The original illustrations used for the book (drawn by Yvonne), were produced as part of an artist’s residency which were exhibited at the start of Shelly and Norma’s residency, in both Darlington Town Hall and the Covered Market in 2015.
Creative practitioners Shelly Newnham and Norma Kyle, revisited the original artists’ residency of 1986, following in the footsteps of Yvonne and Allene, between the Summer of 2015 and Autumn 2016. Shelly and Norma acknowledged the daily business activities which took place, and the personalities who were part of the market during the time frame, through photography. What Shelly and Norma experienced was a sense of community, similar to that documented in 1986. They observed extended families working together, or passing on their skills and knowledge to future generations. Despite the challenges that these business owners faced, the majority have continued to adapt to changing needs and shopping habits.
During the time that Shelly and Norma visited and met the people behind the businesses, some have retired, some have moved on, and sadly, some have left this world forever. New businesses were established, pop up stores became commonplace (for those testing out new business ideas) whilst exhibitions and workshops also took place. Much has changed since the Covered Market opened its doors for the first time over 150 years ago. It seems that change is inherent within the nature of markets, as it is across all retail platforms. Shelly and Norma would like to thank you for your interest in the project and invite you to meet the faces behind the portraits for yourself.
The Market revisited portraits exhibition runs from 1st December 2016 to 3rd February 2017.