Photo Gallery – Howfen Portraits: lockdown street photos in Bolton
It was a boiling hot day and I was having a brew in the back garden when the idea of doorstep portraits came to mind. A friend from the local running club had put a team of volunteers together to sew scrub bags for Bolton Hospital ICU and, given that I’m hopeless at sewing, I thought I’d use photography to try and raise some awareness/funds for the materials.
I’d seen various photographers taking lockdown street photos across the country. Some were charging for their work (in lieu of any paid shoots due to the pandemic) and others were raising money for charity. But at the time, no-one was taking any on my local patch in Westhoughton in Bolton. The people of Westhoughton are known as ‘Howfeners’ (from Houghton) or ‘Keaw Yeds (cow heads). Folklore says a farmer found his cow with its head stuck in a five barred gate. Rather than damage the gate he cut the cow’s head off, as the cow cost less than the gate.
My doorstep portraits of Keaw Yeds were taken in line with social distancing measures and shot on my once-a-day allowable walk within a one-mile radius of Central Drive. The project raised funds for Team Chocolate Orange to create emergency PPE and comfort wear for Bolton Hospital ICU staff. Thanks to the kind donations of those who took part, the project raised more than £300. Since then, kit has been distributed to Bolton ICU and the North West Ambulance Service.
Words and images by Marge Bradshaw
Main image: Joanna, an embalmer
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