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Lewis’s heyday recalled in a new exhibition

22 February 2010 by Sam

photo of empty shop interior

Copyright Stephen King

Today the sad news was reported that after 154 years of trading the department store Lewis’s is to close.

Even without its famous cheeky statue, the store has dominated Renshaw Street as long as anyone can remember, as this photograph from the Stewart Bale collection shows. Several generations of local people have shopped and worked there.

The news of the closure adds extra poignancy to the stories told in the next exhibition to open at the National Conservation Centre, Lewis’s fifth floor: a department story. The exhibition features recent pictures by local photographer Stephen King of the faded glamour of a whole floor of Lewis’s which has not been open to the public since the 1980s.

The photographs show the original features and decor of the hair salon, cafeteria and restaurants which were the epitome of style in the 1950s. There is also a series of portraits of current and ex-employees, with their reminiscences of life at Lewis’s during that era.

Also included in the exhibition is an artist documentary filmed and produced by Jacqueline Passmore. The film examines the impact of Lewis’s heyday through interviews with staff from the fifth floor.

The exhibition opens to the public on Friday and runs until 30 August 2010, ultimately outliving the department store that inspired it.

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