`

Exhibition shows retired resort performers in iconic settings

Pat Prince, ballroom dancer, pictured in Blackpool Tower Ballroom'From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths
Pat Prince, ballroom dancer, pictured in Blackpool Tower Ballroom'From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths
0
Have your say

These fantastic photographs depict retired Blackpool performers in some of the resort’s most iconic settings.

They appear as part of an Arts council-funded photography series by Blackpool-based photographer Claire Walmsley Griffiths.

Barry Band, former Gazette and LEP journalist, at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool'From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths

Barry Band, former Gazette and LEP journalist, at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool'From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths

The Retired Performers Project - Time And Tide, is a project documenting 30 performers through image and audio, collecting ‘hidden’ stories of Blackpool’s performance-based heritage through memories, spaces and the backdrop of the resort’s residents.

It includes music, personal heritage archives and interviews.

Participants are for the most part pictured in spaces they once performed in – such as The Circus Ring, Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens Theatres.

Over the last nine months, a website has been created – to act as a long-term document, paying homage to performance individuals whose memories of Blackpool have high esteem in their own past and allows a glimpse into ‘backstage’ life and personal story-telling.

Karl Bartoni, escapologist, pictured at Blackpool Tower''From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths

Karl Bartoni, escapologist, pictured at Blackpool Tower''From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths

Participants include ice dancers, circusettes, dancers, Tower Ballroom participants, musicians, escape artists and Blackpool Tower Orchestra members.

The audio was created alongside sound artist Rick Thompson, from Other Worlds festival.

Claire, a Northampton University graduate, who has a history of fine art practice, said: “In 2014, I met a retired foot juggler at Showzam, Blackpool’s circus festival. She showed me an image of herself as a young woman with her husband.

“She told me her husband had performed for Hitler and toured the world performing. I began to consider the ‘hidden’ stories of Blackpool, a place famous for performance and historically the destination for theatre and showmanship.

Leslie Melville, at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool'From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths

Leslie Melville, at the Imperial Hotel, Blackpool'From Time and Tide, by Claire Griffiths

“Time and Tide, The Retired Performers Project, is a series of images and audio interviews captured over 12 months, beginning in January 2018.

“The series is created to pay homage to the people of Blackpool performance in some of the most opulent theatrical spaces in the world in and prior to 1970s. Including chauffeurs, dancers, musicians, performers and ice dancers. These are the people that made the place.”

Large-scale images can be seen in high footfall areas across Blackpool, enabling audiences from across the generations to follow stories of the participants, and delve into Blackpool’s grand legacy.

Among the performers featured are Patricia Lemoine, who was once a circusette.

She was working at a brewery when she saw an advert in The Gazette for a circusette.

She said: “My mum worked in the circus box office when we were little and we used to go to watch the shows. You saw the girls in their wonderful costumes walking around and every little girl wanted to be a circusette.

“There was so many shows on in Blackpool, it was fantastic. I remember it was always sunny.

“We didn’t get to see the shows because we were working, but after the shows, there was somewhere all the artists went and stars would go, and we were also allowed to go.”

Also featured, pictured at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool, is The Gazette’s own Barry Band.

Barry was a journalist at both The Gazette and the Lancashire Evening Post and is now a correspondent for Memory Lane.

He shares his memories of ballroom dancing and its popularity in the 1950s and the big bands at the Empress Ballroom.

And professional ballroom dancer Pat Prince is featured, in the famous Tower Ballroom.

She said: “Blackpool was the place I knew as a seaside place as a child and remember the place when I look at the photographs of myself as a child. I started ballroom dancing at 15 and we always wore satin shoes in those days for ballroom, the dresses I had made.”

Visit www.retiredperformers.com or www.instagram.com/retiredperformers