Across the UK, town centres are undergoing a major transformation. Over the past decade, empty storefronts have become an increasingly familiar sight as businesses disappear from our high streets, leaving an atmosphere of uncertainty in their wake. In 2021 alone, more than 17,000 stores shut down nationwide – the combined result of the growth of out-of-town retail, the rise of megastores and more recently a shift towards online shopping, all exacerbated by a global pandemic.
While working on his previous project This Land, Martin Amis noticed the prevalence of closed premises, and began to explore this phenomenon further. Between 2019 and 2022, Amis photographed closed shops across Kent, gradually building a picture of how British towns are being reshaped by the decline of the high street. From pubs, post offices and bookshops to newsagents and social clubs, these spaces once served a vital role for communities. Focusing on the overlooked elements and architectural details, Amis captures the multiple layers of these buildings as they have morphed over the years, each revealing signs of social change.
Photographed in deadpan monochrome, these vacant storefronts are symbolic of a greater loss: the sense of community and cultural identity these spaces foster. The social spirit of local pubs and daily conversations in the corner shop are just some of the simple but crucial elements that help people feel less isolated and alone. In Closed, Amis presents a picture of the changing face of Britain through the microcosm of the high street. These ghost streets speak of the fragmentation of communities, an uncertain future and the ongoing evolution of Britain’s urban spaces.