Photographer Doug Jewell takes a tour of Bristol’s empty spaces.
Walk around any British town or city and you’re almost guaranteed to find an empty shop. There’s something strangely moving about a space that once housed life and ambition being empty.
It was such emptiness that struck a chord with Bristol photographer Colin Moody, as he strolled down Whiteladies Road one afternoon. He began snapping away at the interiors, using the shop frontages as framing devices for the images. After local media outlets ran articles using the pictures, Colin appealed on Twitter for photographers to get involved with the project.
I answered the tweet and after hooking up we decided to extend the scope from vacant shops to encompass other empty spaces that capture the poignancy of impermanence.
In spring we are hoping to hold an exhibition in a central Bristol location that is currently an empty space.
“This was one of the first empty shops that piqued Colin’s interest. It’s the old stationery and art supplies shop Harold Hockey on Whiteladies Road. Fitting, then, that the vacant interior has been turned into an artful shot that will feature in an exhibition in the city it served so well over the years.”
Bridewell Police Station
“What was once a hustling bustling police station witnessing all manner of human drama has now been transformed into an arty hub housing some of Bristol’s most creative spirits. On a recent tour of what is now called The Island I met dressmakers, picture framers and circus performers. The cells, however, remain empty.”
“Here’s an empty shop on Park Street with a lonely Hetty the hoover checking her reflection in the mirror. In my imagination Hetty lounges on that sofa at night, drinking away her sorrows whilst longing Henry Hoover will return to her after his affair with a Dyson has fizzled out.”
“Made in Bristol, who showcase, celebrate and promote local artistic talent used to occupy this shop in Quakers Friars before moving across town to their new home on the Harbourside. I’ve used the reflection from the window to create the effect that the outside and inside are bleeding together to form one vacant space.”
“Here’s the derelict site of a once booming luxury car showroom by Ashton Gate. “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” asked Janis Joplin, the response to which could be: “Because the dealership looks like a bomb site. And anyway I couldn’t care less about your Porsche driving friends, I’ve got miracles to perform.””
“The once ubiquitous Blockbuster is now sadly just a fading blue and yellow tinged memory tucked away in the corner of our mental attic. This empty shell on Winterstoke road used to be a hive of DVD hiring and overpriced popcorn purchasing activity. Now it’s just as sad and vacant as the Jean Claude Van Damme movies it used to rent out.”
Wong Tai Sin
“Here we have a pleasingly dilapidated Chinese take away in Totterdown where the closed sign is now permanently on display. Wong Tai Sin is a Chinese deity with the power of healing. Truly God does give and do takeaway.”
“Over to Severn Beach now where we have this somewhat neglected and bedraggled amusements’ shed. I like to think there’s the ghost of a psychotic clown trapped in the shed who, once released, will spend the rest of his days haunting the Second Severn Crossing and ensuring the toll fee is kept wildly out of kilter with the national rate of inflation.”
St Peter’s Church
“Here’s a redundant crowd control barrier in St Peter’s Church in Castle Park. This magnificent building was bombed in the Bristol Blitz of 1940 and is now maintained as a monument to the civilian war dead of Bristol. I’ve always thought it would make an excellent night club but as it’s grade II listed this is unlikely to happen.”
“The majority of buildings on the old Barrow Gurney Hospital site have been levelled to make way for some swanky new executive houses. Pretty much all that remains standing is this. Whilst tip-toeing my way round the interior for this shot I was distracted by the scrawled ‘boom’. It felt like some hideous nightmare in which I was trapped in Piers Morgan’s Twitter timeline.”
Find Colin Moody on Twitter.
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All photos: Doug Jewell and Colin Moody