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Alex Williamson / It's Showtime! / Blackpool Museum Installation


Showtown: the museum of fun and entertainment, and Blackpool’s first museum, opens its doors on the iconic Golden Mile on 15 March after six years of development.

Across six interactive exhibition spaces, Showtown is an immersive, behind- the- scenes journey through what makes the seaside town famous. A multi- layered and visually rich experience, the museum celebrates and details the unique Blackpool aesthetic and its richly layered cultural heritage; seaside, circus, magic, show, dance and illuminations, and the entertainers who put the town on the map.

Showtown uses eye-catching graphics and large scale artworks by Alex Williamson who was commissioned by Cason Mann to enhance the experience, visually weaving the museum’s interactive exhibits, objects and stories together.

For this project, Alex worked with visual material from the Heritage Collection; fabulous archives of printed ephemera, old posters, postcards and photography, to create a series of large scale collage artworks that reinterpret the archive materials and help bring to life ‘Showtown’ as an immersive, engaging family experience.

Showtown, the museum, depicts Blackpool as a kind of ‘collage’ formed over time by the collision of so many groups of people and activities: holiday makers old and young, punks and magicians, comic fans and ballroom dancers, acrobats and fortune tellers. The immersive environment created is a historically rich and often chaotic collage of competing signs, buildings, stories and events constantly throwing up unexpected juxtapositions for the visitor.

Traditionally a trip to Blackpool offered a release from the fixed nature of everyday life and work and the museum’s mix of stories, characters, imagery, sounds (and even smells) is curated to capture the jumbled sense of fun and the 'chaos' of a walk down the ‘Golden Mile’, where people let off steam and unexpected adventures are to be found on the piers and in the sideshows, entertainments, dance halls and nightlife.

The collage artworks, which feature throughout the museum as setworks or wallpapers, weave in and out of interactive exhibits and historical artefacts, tying together these overlaid narratives and spaces, visualising the atmospheric social and cultural resonance of Blackpool and its origins as a northern English working class resort.

As one of Blackpool’s favourite sons, Eric Morecambe, puts it in his famous piano-playing sketch, in Blackpool we are always ‘playing the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order’. A statement that describes the experience of and creative approach to Showtown perfectly.

Showtown opens in Blackpool on 15 March

Photography by Simon Critchley


You can also read Creative Review's write up on the museum here

Alex's full portfolio can be reviewed here.

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