Apple Blossom Court
1 Falkland Road, Wallasey
Apple Blossom Court is a care home in Wallasey providing personal care and support for its residents who have learning disabilities.
It is situated in the striking cream and brown Victorian building which was the former Priestley & Sons Photographic Studios. This was the studio that Sydney had his ‘graduation portrait’ done in 1914 as he left Wallasey Grammar School.
Alongside the Arts Council funding for the exhibition Photographs from Another Place, I was also granted financial assistance from The Elephant Trust to make a small artist edition multiple of the portraits on the original Gearing Ilford Tonelle Bromide postcards from the 1940s, gifted to me by the surviving daughter of Sydney Gearing. Using that camera and the set of unexposed photographic postcard paper stock, I re-imagined and awakened the care home’s past by (re)creating a series of resident portraits with an Edwardian pop-up backdrop. I also explored the notion of myself as Gearing by empowering them to make a ‘portrait’ of me as him.
I collaborated with heritage photographic specialist, Tony Richards from The John Rylands Library, Manchester in the technical delivery of a pop-up Edwardian studio, recreating the photographic backdrop in Sydney’s portrait, and the printing of the postcard photographic material.
I produced five editioned boxsets of the portraits on the original ‘Gearing Archive’ Ilford Tonelle Bromide re-Second World War postcard stock.
There was also enough post-war photographic paper in another box to print and exhibit these portraits as part of my wider research in the form of an installation at The Williamson Art Gallery where Sydney regularly visited, see gallery one images.
As the family did to me, I have gifted a boxset to them. I have donated one to the Williamson’s permanent collection (which holds photographs from the original Priestley Studio), one to Apple Blossom Court, one to my collaborator and my archive.
Each is packaged in one of Sydney’s original boxes.
Priestley and Sons
Samuel Priestley (1826 – 1891) and his son Arthur Priestley (1863 – 1940) moved to Wallasey in 1885, establishing a studio on the corner of Falkland Road and Brighton Street. He and his son Arthur, who had completed an apprenticeship at Medrington’s, in Bold Street, Liverpool, set about becoming the leading professional photography business in the town, surviving the First World War but folding just before the Second. Their day to day business was primarily concerned with sittings for family groups and events and, being just a few streets away from where the Gearings lived, it was only natural they visited for sittings.
Priestleys also took photographs of many local scenes and they accepted commissions for Cunard White Star and Wallasey Corporation amongst others.