Reframed City: Canterbury Seen Through Rare Archival Images from the Canterbury Museums and Galleries Collection was an archival photography research project I carried out from autumn 2016 to spring 2017. The research focused on infrequently used visual material held in the archives in order to bring its richness to light. It was paired up with contemporary views and knowledge of the city to show a place that, although steeped in history, fluidly responds to societal developments. The project culminated with an exhibition at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury between 16 February and 3rd March 2019.
The arts and heritage sectors have, over the years, increasinly investigated issues of local place and identity in the face of all-flattening globalisation. This virtual exhibition comprises photographs from Canterbury Museums and Galleries’ archives and is a result of our own enquiry about what makes up the distinctive qualities and characteristics of the city of Canterbury.
These rarely seen images enable us to reflect on the architectural, social and cultural changes to the city over the past century and beyond – the mills on the Stour river have disappeared, there are new bulidings and wider roads whilst historical institutions like The Westgate Towers and The High Street endure, although how we now view and use them has changed.
Please take this opportunity to examine the collective memory inscribed in the city’s buildings, roads and parks while, at the same time, exploring your personal memories and experiences of Canterbury; travel back in time with us and find both familiar and unfamiliar sights.
After all, ‘a city always contains more than any inhabitant can know, and a great city always makes the unknown and the possible spur to the imagination‘, writes American author Rebecca Solnit.
Our exhibition puts her words to the test.