The Living Memory Project captures and celebrates personal photography collections and everyday life stories from across the Black Country region. The project started in 2018 and finishes in 2020 with the publication of the Living Memory book and a final showcase exhibition.
The website features recorded life stories and personal photographs and showcases our many micro-projects, artist commissions and new films. You can also find details of how to obtain our forthcoming book. You can read more about the project here.
The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, with additional support from Sandwell Council, GM2LF Big Local, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Black Country Living Museum.
'Here's a greengrocery in Brockmoor which is part of Brierley Hill and where the shops are intensely “local”. They're were run by families in the old days; they're not franchises or chains or multiples, they're little family enterprises. So, you get things passed from grandad to mum to son. And you often wonder how they survive on such meagre trade serving such a small locality. But, of course, it's in their blood; they've done it all their lives; they believe in it, they fervent about it. I remember one lady I went see who got up at dawn every day so she could arrange all her oranges and apples in beautiful pyramids in the shop window and so on – they often took a kind of pride in the tricks of their trade.'
'Because Black Country towns are so subdivided into endless small communities within themselves, you can really get to know those communities through the shops and the story of the people who have run them. Some of these shopkeepers become local legends, but they are disappearing and they are threatened by changes in modern retailing and so on. So, I think I'm glad that since the 1980s I have been out there photographing shops, shopkeepers, the exteriors of shops, shop fronts, but also interiors, and really it's something you can never keep up with it.'
Ned Williams shares a story behind one of his archive images. Read the full story here.