Open Spaces is a non-profit community project founded with the aim to brighten up and regenerate the streets of Stockport. Megan Fairgray chats to artist Maisy Summer, who transformed an empty shopfront into a colourful and nostaligic homage to the shops history.
Run by Jane Crowther and Vicky Carr, Open Spaces gathers local artists and designers to redecorate closed and empty shopfronts in Stockport’s Old Town. Celebrating both the town’s rich and colourful industrial history and the community of creatives that reside there now, the Open Spaces project breathes new life into the area.
Maisy Summer is a Manchester-based artist who was recently involved with the project. She explains that the importance of this kind of work goes beyond artist passion, saying how the project is “to show the residents of Stockport that people care and that we can help support the area with creativity. he Stockport high street has been on the decline, but with new independents opening, there needs to be more things for people to visit, see, enjoy! So projects such as this supports the shops and vice versa.”
The theme of the Open Spaces project that Maisy worked on was ‘Remembrance’. Through a lot of detective work, Maisy discovered that the empty shopfront she had been assigned had once been a Lipton grocers: “I started to piece together that small part of the high-street. It helped that I have a Nana and Great Auntie who actually lived through the 1930’s and could help me with products & brands I should include.”
Maisy, who is a resident at Marketplace Studios in Stockport, wanted to “give the public a tiny bit of history and backstory to the high-street of Stockport” with her mural. Engaging both the locals and the odd tourist, Maisy wanted to show “the wonders of Stockport and what the community have to offer now.” She recalls that the best part of her experience with Open Spaces was the “array of bizarre encounters with the public”: the “majority positive, people saying they really love the work, saying its brightening up the streets and being interested in the design and back story. Some people thought I was actually opening up my own fruit and veg shop!”.
The aim of Open Spaces is “to highlight empty shops, and to get more people with great ideas to open up the empty shops”. Everyone benefits from these type of projects, and it is refreshing to see people take pride in their community and celebrate the talent of local artists. In turn, artists have the opportunity to create a large scale project that foresees the town’s colourful future, while the community get to flaunt what Stockport is all about.
Interview by Megan Fairgray