Few cities can boast they are home to the world’s oldest independent department store - but that’s precisely what Derry posesses in Austins.
This stunningly beautiful building in the heart of Derry’s Diamond has captivated many a shopper in times gone by.
No wonder then that Paul Devlin, a researcher and theatre-maker from the University of Ulster, finds it so intriguing and why he has chosen to stage a significant research and performance project there.
This Thursday, November 14, will see several fascinating public events taking place in this city centre landmark.
Austins: Memory & Place is a creative performance project funded by the Culture Company. This Thursday, November 14, both Austins department store and UU researchers would like to invite you to their ‘Memory Store’ day.
Adrian O’Connell is Producer of the project and explains: “This is a day-long series of interactive activities being offered free of charge in Austins. We are asking people who bring objects, together with the staff of Austins and our researchers, to co-curate and stage a pop-up exhibition - “Goods”- in the store that day. We will be receiving items in store from 10 am and will stage the Exhibition in the afternoon. All items will be returned after the event”.
Objects can be anything from a wedding dress you bought in Austins years ago or a bag or pair of shoes that mean something to you.
There are a number of other interesting and quirky ways to take part in the Memory Store day.
“We are also asking customers and staff to teach some of our performers how to dance,” Paul adds, “Music triggers such rich memories... so we’ve created a mini dancehall in the Rooftop Restaurant in Austins and we are inviting people to come and dance with us. Local legend Gay McIntyre will make a guest appearance to play for the dancers.”
“Memory Store is fundamentally about sharing”, Paul says. “The meanings we attach to locations like Austins reveal a lot about where we are as a city.”