In a year-long project commissioned by one of the UK’s biggest social care charities, Community Integrated Care, and Open Eye Gallery, photographers Marge Bradshaw and Sam Batley have been appointed as Photographers in Residence at The Watch Factory, one of Community Integrated Care’s Extra Care services based in Merseyside.
Throughout their residency, the photographers will use the rich heritage of the service to spur creative activity and promote discussion between the people supported and the service’s local community.
Named after the building’s historical roots as a factory many years ago, The Watch Factory in Prescot, Knowsley now houses 70 purpose-built flats, specially designed to promote the independence and social connections of the older people supported at the service.
As one of the UK’s leading photography spaces, Open Eye Gallery will head the project, forming part of their Young at Art initiative, working with those aged over 60 across the Liverpool City Region.
One of the biggest aims of this unique scheme will be to establish a photography club at the service – creating a community, giving people the chance to gain new friendships and developing opportunities for self-expression for all who get involved. During their year in residence, the photographers will deliver up to 30 sessions of this free club, with the aim for the group to continue self-sufficiently, long beyond the photographers’ term.
This programme will build on Community Integrated Care’s successful partnership with Open Eye Gallery, following their collaboration with photographer Tadhg Devlin last year on ‘Who’s Left Behind?’, an emotive photography series documenting the struggles of the charity’s colleagues during the early pandemic.
The first session of the new photography club took place earlier this week at The Watch Factory, where attendees had the opportunity to meet both photographers, as well as members of Open Eye Gallery.
Marge Bradshaw said:
“I am delighted to have been appointed Photographer in Residence at The Watch Factory, along with co-photographer Sam Batley. We are really looking forward to working with the people supported to help them explore different forms of photography!
“The sessions will have a real focus on telling personal stories and exploring the local community through a variety of different creative mediums, from taking traditional photos, to creating collages and cyanotypes. Our aim is to support everyone who gets involved to feel confident to pick up a camera, try something new and express themselves through their creations. It’s so empowering to be able to share your stories and experiences with others – we hope that the Photography Club will inspire people to open up and give them the skills and confidence to do so.”
Susan Widlof, Service Leader at The Watch Factory, said:
“At Community Integrated Care, we are passionate about enabling the people we support to pursue their passions and further their independence, and our new Photography Club is a prime example of our commitment to creating fulfilling opportunities for them to do just that!
“We are thrilled to welcome Marge and Sam to our team as Photographers in Residence at The Watch Factory. It is really unique to have these positions within a care setting and I’m really excited to see the positive impact that the programme will have, not only in helping the people we support to develop their technical skills in using a camera and taking photographs but also in giving them a voice and a platform to share their life stories and the experiences that are important to them! I would also like to thank our partners at Open Eye Gallery for helping us to facilitate these sessions which bring so much joy and value to our people.”