“The heartbeat of a city

For one of my modules i have to look into my city which is a task set by one of my lecturers Daniel Burwood who has a great talent for documentary and photo-journalistic images. Dan is one of the co founders of the Some cities project along with Andrew Jackson who came to our college course to give us a lecture on photojournalism and look deeper into what a city means to you as an individual. feel free to check out the website below it truly is some inspired work.

http://www.some-cities.org.uk/about

i was asked to look at how i have impacted my city and in turn how my city has impacted me. which all of a sudden hit me that after 31 years of living in the wonderful city of Coventry I have rarely thought of how i have had an impression on my city and it got me thinking about the term “MY CITY”   as of 2011 316,900 people of varied different cultural backgrounds and religious preferences living in Coventry. I feel that each of these thousands of people has a story to tell in an image. that would cover why this city is their’s each person that has lived in this city has left their mark one way or another.with all this in mind I started thinking with my 13 years working in retail in the city I have seen the change of the way the city looks and the way it feels. which I am fully aware of how strange that sounds but it has been said that a city has a heartbeat and people seem to believe that the Coventry heartbeat has become irregular. i would like to look into the big social question at the moment that is on the minds and lips of every Coventarian.

Student flats at old Allied Carpets building reaction: ‘Will the name change from Coventry City to Student City?’

Headline Coventry evening telegraph, 2015

lets start by looking at the rich history of Coventry city.

Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the centre of England. it was the capital city more than once in the 15th century when the seat of government was held in Coventry. It I s the 10th largest city in England and the 13th largest UK city overall and the second largest in the Midlands following Birmingham with a population of 337,400 as of 2014. Coventry was the worlds first twin city , when it formed a twinning relationship with the Russian city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) during the second world war. the relationship developed through ordinary people in Coventry who felt they wanted to show there support for the soviet red army during the battle of Stalingrad the city is also twinned with Dresden, Lidice, saint-etienne  and 22 other cities around the world Coventry cathedral is one of the newer buildings , having been built after the destruction of the 14th century cathedral church of saint Michael during the blitz on the 14th of November 1940. here are the before and after pictures of the cathedral.

pre1940cathedral

crossend

Coventry motor companies have been a key player in the success of the British motor industry.

with the blitz on the city in November 1940 the city was in ruins mostly. I remember being told the story by my grandmother when I was young of how the fires of Coventry city centre could be seen from Bedworth (a town about 7 miles away)  where she lived at the time.

But the spirit of the city and the country as a whole after the blitz showed the solidarity of the people who instantly dusted themselves off grieved and started cleaning up the devastation. over the course of the next 20 years or so the city was rebuilt but the city would not be crushed. I look at Coventry as a city that has been hit hard over the last 20 years but it is starting to dust itself off and rebuild slowly but things are improving. As a retail worker in the past i have been made redundant a couple of times and had to find new work as have many thousands of people in Coventry. so when people ask is a student city a good thing or a bad thing all I see is shops that have been previously closed down and empty shop fronts with closure signs up in the windows slowly reopening new business which can only be a good thing as more money is coming into the local economy. the link below shows how reports say that student in coventry bring 3 Million pounds per week into the local economy.

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/coventry-university-students-contribute-3-9744240

The idea for a shoot i had was to photograph the empty shop fronts with people that have been made redundant in the past but i feel i will use medium format film process as it will show the grainy nostalgia that i would like. I want to make people have an emotional response of what the city was like when they were young, and hopefully incite memories of past shops. but I would like to use the contrast of the new stores that are reopening with the new employed staff stood outside these would be shot with digital as I want to portray the clarity of the city within the images.

however I don’t want to focus on the shops i would use them as the backdrop for the faces of the people, the so called “heartbeat of the city”

PJ

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