A feast for Northern Eyes! Prom shelters turn into galleries

October 23, 2019

Six promenade shelters between Old Colwyn and Rhos on Sea have been turned into a large scale portrait gallery as part of the Northern Eye Photography Festival.

London based photographer Niall McDiarmid, whose work features in the National Portrait Gallery, has captured twenty-four of the faces behind local independents, showcasing the diversity of local businesses.

The project developed when local residents’ raised concerns about the appearance of the shelters on the promenade.

Councillor Roger Parry said; “The shelters are nearing the end of their lifespan and these sections of the prom will be upgraded as part of the waterfront project. In the meantime, State of Independents will make great use of the shelters; celebrating our hardworking local businesses and hopefully encouraging footfall from the promenade to our highstreets.”

The exhibition has been funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Imagine Colwyn and produced by Oriel Colwyn Curator, Paul Sampson.

Paul said; “Displaying high quality work in public spaces is key to successfully breaking down barriers to artistic and public engagement. Last year we produced a highly acclaimed project for Llandudno’s seafront shelters, celebrating the town’s hospitality trade.

"This year, State of Independents sees us turn our focus on the unique personalities and businesses found within Rhos on Sea and Colwyn Bay. It is hoped the project will become a catalyst for further engagement with photographers, artists, businesses and the community on a much larger scale.”

Helen Jackson from the Imagine Colwyn Bay project, said “High streets and town centres across the country are struggling, but we’re lucky to have a vibrant and interesting range of businesses here.

"The purpose of this project is to raise the profile of these businesses and celebrate the individuals behind them - we hope to expand it further with a website to include more local businesses.”

Ceri Carpenter from Natural Choice in Rhos on Sea, who features in the exhibition, added: “I was surprised to be approached, but we’re delighted to be part of the exhibition and part of the local, independent business community.”

The Northern Eye Photography Festival is a biennial event in collaboration between the Oriel Colwyn photography gallery and Aberystwyth's The Eye Festival.

The festival aims to bring internationally acclaimed photography exhibitions to the area and encourage discussion and dialogue through the speakers’ weekend.