Imagine Hillfeilds

Jason Scott Tilly

-The response to Blakemore

  • Archived photos from a deceased relative- started separating them into sections, looking for details- on the back
  • Taylor brothers studio
  • No idea what he was going to do with them
  • Hard to find info on Taylor brothers studio
  • Hillfields- medieval village that was just outside the wall- enter from the east, Leicester or London way
  • Famous for ribbon weaving in Victorian times
  • Bombed quite heavily in second world war
  • Gate way into Coventry
  • Stages of high employment followed by low employment- not consistent, doing well now

John Blakemore

  • Hillfields Archive 1964-65
  • Started his career at Taylor Brothers studio
  • From Coventry
  • Taken images in 1960’s
  • Aspirations to be a documentary photographer- took pictures of the people around him
  • ‘Mixing with the arts crowd’
  • Shortage of space- archive in Birmingham library- home for British photography
  • From a different point of view- there is no context to the images

Richard Sadler also photographed in Hillfields

-Hillfields 1951

  • A day in the life of his grandmother- in Hillfields
  • Precious to him
  • Original prints still, nothing had been done with them

Masterji Archive

-1960’s- 1990’s

  • Filled a time frame gap
  • Showed the different population coming in in the 1960’s
  • Pink bits on black and white negatives- lightening skin to make sure you could sell the work

By getting the work out there on social media they were able to find out so much more and people in the images were coming to them and telling their stories

Site specific to Hillfields

Wanted to get people in Coventry talking

Jason Scott Tilly

-The Response

  • Wondered how to do this
  • Find the exact places? Copy the style?
  • Add context that was missing from Johns images
  • Decided to go back to the places where John went
  • Hard to get people to get involved- need you for an hour or two

Nick Stone


  • Matching the two places and merging the two images together
  • Effective- really merges the past and the present
  • Clearly shows the take over of Coventry University and the renovations

Jason Tilly, further thoughts and questions:

Why colour? Most of your past work has been black and white.. Didn’t want to get pigeon holed to black and white

What do you think you achieved? Adding something different, and modern to the project

Good to bring the colours out, and makes it easier to link to today, black and white would have been too easily linked to the past images

Do you want to do anything more with the work? He would like to tell the story from John’s wife’s side, would be interested to compare the images and see the other side, she also has a lot of Blakemore’s old images still- key component to moving any further

John reverted back to what he used to do in his work now

Do you have any advice for us if we were to carry out a big project like this? Need an emotional connection to big projects- keeps you interested and fuels your motivation

Hillfields there was an emotional connection because of the old photos, but more academic and aesthetically pleasing- geographical places, finding where Blakemore had taken his images

An on going collection, another photographer comes in 20 years time maybe?

Outcomes to give it to Hillfields history

Below are a selection of the images that were part of the ‘Imagine Hillfeilds’ exhibition and book: