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An audiovisual exploration of a seaside guesthouse and the personal and collective memories of its long-term residents

Swindells, Danielle (2016) An audiovisual exploration of a seaside guesthouse and the personal and collective memories of its long-term residents. Masters thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

In this research project I set out to understand how the film medium can be used to materialize the physical and symbolic change of Blackpool’s seaside landscape through the internal location of The Ashleigh Hotel. The building functioned as a seaside guesthouse until approximately thirty years ago when it stopped accommodating tourists and became privately tenanted accommodation for benefit claimants. This is symptomatic of a wider transformation undergone by Blackpool, a traditional seaside resort in the North of England, as the advent of cheap air travel in the 1970’s caused the “bucket and spade” holiday to fall from popularity. Subsequent economic problems have resulted in low property prices and a rise in the number of guesthouses no longer servicing holidaymakers but instead housing Blackpool’s enormous transient population of people facing difficulties such as such as drug addiction and unemployment. My study explores how a declining landscape maintained on nostalgia can affect the human condition of those inhabiting it. I filmed inside the building three times a week for approximately five weeks and used a HD camcorder with observational and participatory documentary methodologies (Nichols, 2010) forming the basis of the filming process. This was done alongside an artist’s approach to aesthetics. I developed a method through the making of the film, which juxtaposed the residents’ personal histories of the town and outside world with the internal domestic architecture of the building. A series of contrasts began to emerge during the filming process: Then and Now, Closeness and Distance, Isolation and Community, Internal and External, which became central to the research project and informed my practice. The film is called Over And Over and is submitted as part of my thesis.

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