I have been invited by David Bethell, who is curating a programme of window displays for the Wirksworth Festival, to do a window. The reason he asked me is that he wants works which are site specific - or which fit the specific location of a small town high street. He was particularly thinking about the works that I have done along the lines of SHOP INDEPENDENT.I thought this was quite interesting, especially when he told me that in Wirksworth only one shop IS NOT independent, and that is the Spar. All other shops are independent, which is incredibly rare these days.
This got me thinking about how far we have come in the last 50 years in most high streets, moving away from Independence and difference, with high streets becoming more homogenised. This creep is something that we are now very aware of, but it happened almost without most of the general public's awareness.
If we continue down this route we will become a nation where there is only one big shop. High streets may no longer exist at all - we may have no choice but to shop in the big corporations. I love the fact that Wirksworth is full of Independent shops - but it is certainly something which should be hailed and celebrated.We went across to Wirksworth on Monday to have a look at the available windows and to see if there would be one suitable for my idea. I had imagined that we would all be using empty shops - as many of the Shop projects I have been involved in recently have utilised these empty spaces. Actually Wirksworth high street doesn't have many empty shops - in comparison to other places - and we will actually be using the windows of existing businesses. I was a bit worried by this, as some shopkeepers might think my piece is negative - and might not want something like this in their window. My approach for Wirksworth will be to create a possible - anti-independent store of the future. As a warning to Shop Independent and to keep supporting local shops I am going to create the BLAND Brand - a non-independent monopoly, which is the future of retail if the previous 50 years is anything to go by. The Bland brand will see everything available for sale in cans - nothing fresh or exotic. Everything from Bread, to beans to soap in a can.
No choice, No colour, No difference, No independence.
The chosen site for the piece is part of (but across the alley from) Ken's Mini Market - the chosen window is on the high street but is not the frontage of the business - which is good. Also it was unmanned - and is where the mini market shows the DVD collection which customers can borrow. A DVD shop is very different to my chosen shop type - so I think this could work.
I will be including a QR code on the window and on all of the items for sale in my shop window, this will announce: Buyer Beware - Shop Independent.