ASK ANNA interviewed three people this time: First was local resident and SHOP attendee Michael Ogundibo about what he thought of Stoke Town. He also finished the episode by serenading ASK ANNA with a Lionel Richie number, which I have a feeling might be one of the agony aunt's favourites.
Pam Rowlands - Landlady at the very successful local boozer 'The White Star' talked through how well the pub has been doing since it opened in 2008. The pub of course has an array of locally brewed Titanic Ale, which is delicious. Pam brought along three of the best sellers for ASK ANNA to try.
The final episode was great - but we still need to return to Stoke soon to make some 'adverts' about some of the shops in Stoke Town. We took the exhibition down then and there as another artist was taking over the shop the next day. It has been a whirlwind project - but I am sure that some very interesting information has been gathered.
I went along today to SHOP for the final event in SHOP's program - a Halloween themed meeting - a chance to have a chat and informally go over what has happened within the program - and talk about what the future might hold for SHOP. Gemma has been offered the premises til after Christmas - but obviously the art's council funding has all gone. Gemma has also been given a Shop premises in Hanley - which we will be using for our Conjunction Live Art event.
SHOP was Gemma's first big project - and I must say how impressive it has been. She has approached the project with an inclusive, experimental ethos - which has meant the project has appealed to a broad range of people. She has been very involved with the local businesses in Stoke, which is admirable. There are many empty shop projects which ignore their locality, and do not consider what happens once they are gone. SHOP has been the opposite of that. Gemma has worked with lots of artists, but has approached the curation and selection of (for example) the residency artists with true professionalism - assembling an eclectic mix of selectors to help her choose. As well as the residencies, SHOP has provided a space for many local artists to show and sell their work, plus providing studio space for recent graduates, and through my commission - allowed me to develop a new piece of work. Gemma is now working with those who have been involved in the project as volunteers and regular visitors to now 'transfer the keys' to them. It would be fantastic if the project could survive - and would show just how art projects can really revive and refresh places. SHOP has definitely brought numerous people in to the town to visit - which no doubt leads to increased business for traders in the town. I do not usually go to Stoke Town much, but have visited numerous times since SHOP opened, usually staying to drink in the local pubs afterwards, or do a bit of shopping. I really feel that SHOP has been a roaring success and feel that Gemma should be very pleased with how her very hard work has paid off. Well done Gemma!