Hyson Green in Black & White

Produced for Nottingham Community Arts in 1996, Jo Wheeler's photographs beautifully capture the vibrant character and community of Hyson Green.

I moved to Nottingham in 1995, setting up a darkroom in the bathroom of my Hyson Green flat, balancing chemical trays over the bath and an enlarger on the toilet seat. I was eager to meet other people making stuff but wasn’t sure how.

My boyfriend signed up to a photography course at Nottingham Community Arts based down the road at The Art Exchange. He was asked to bring in some photographs that he liked, I bullied him into taking some of mine. Dave Gilbert was course tutor and then Manager at Nottingham Community Arts, he asked to meet, and offered me the opportunity to make an exhibition for the space – wow, I was so excited!

Hyson Green Traders Association and Nottingham Community Arts gave me a brief to document the positive relationship between the local shops and the community, highlighting the traders' contribution to the vibrant character of the area. I set out with much enthusiasm, walking the streets, meeting the community, the shop owners and the market stall holders - taking hundreds of photographs. I honed them down into an exhibition of 40 images, hand printed at Nottingham Community Arts, and just loved being in and around the building, the people and their energy.

Afterwards, I volunteered as darkroom technician and established the very short-lived Nottingham Women’s Photography Project. I think we managed 3 meetings! Starting up my own community arts partnership in 1997 I moved into the building, renting an office space with fellow artists. It was a fantastic, creative time. I continued working closely with Nottingham Community Arts, being there throughout its transformation into City Arts, and becoming the organisation's Youth Arts Manager between 2001 and 2004.

Since that time I’ve had an on-going relationship with the organisation, dipping in and out as a freelancer - working on projects as coordinator, evaluator, photographer, producer and artist. City Arts is such an intrinsic part of my life – shaping my work, my friendships, my relationship with Nottingham and my passion for creativity and community. I’d like to thank City Arts and wish them a massive happy birthday, and the very best for the future. With 40 years of creative community work, there’s so much to celebrate – Cheers!