Peacehaven in III Parts is a project investigating the past and present of the post WWI suburban seaside town of Peacehaven. During 2009-10 Shepherd worked with the Peacehaven community collecting historical and archive materials whilst interviewing, photographing and documenting the town and it’s residence. The results of this year long project resulted in an eclectic, insightful and unique portrayal of a community. Shepherd wanted her audiences’ experience of the town to mirror that of her own journey of discovery. In response to this aim she built an installation of a 1930’s Peacehaven bungalow living room as the base from where to display a rich and insightful collection of self-produced photo books (Passing Through and Home is Where the Heart is) archive materials and donated objects alongside contemporary documentary photographs and portraits. The result created a fascinating and unique case study of the town.
The foundations for this project are firmly rooted in the documentary genre, where one of its aims was to reconsider how documents are gathered and re-appropriated to tell a story. As such, all images, whether they are archive reprints, photocopies or photographs are placed alongside each other in a non‐hierarchical fashion. This idea is explored in particular in the first of this projet’s book – Passing Through. The second book in the project – Home is Where the Heart is – juxtaposes contemporary images of today’s residence alongside transcribed audio interviews allowing multiple narrative voices to exist presenting a social documentary which transcends linear time.
These books, coupled with found and donated objects, historical and archive materials along with a collection of Shepherd’s own Peacehaven ‘seaside postcards’ were all displayed as part of the installation. Peacehaven in III Parts has been exhibited as an installation three times. On each occasion, the installation was modified, re-creating itself in response to the context of the exhibition. The first installation was built inside a traditional Peacehaven pub where the town cryer and the mayor were invited to open the exhibition. Badges and postcards were also distributed to the exhibition’s visitors as if they’d visited a more ‘famous’ seaside town, in esteem Peacehaven’s founders back in the 1930’s who envisaged ‘a haven of health by the sea’. When the exhibition travelled to London’s HotShoe Gallery, beer was offered at the private view where the regular label had been replaced with one of the project’s Peacehaven photographs.