A Bury FC fan has organised a pop-up exhibition as a tribute to her favourite football club.
We are Bury was born out of the frustration Zoë Hitchen felt as she witnessed the club being destroyed by financial mismanagement and failures in the system, ending with its expulsion from the EFL in August.
And it’s a thank you to the club for helping her learn the art of photography and boost her confidence – nine years ago, Zoë, who is the only Bury fan in her family, volunteered to work with the club’s photographer Martin Ogden.
After being so close to the club, Zoë considers it to be part of her extended family.
She said: “I can’t stand and watch injustice from the sidelines. I feel helpless as a fan.
“I care because it’s where I learnt I could be part of something bigger and it didn’t matter if you won every week or not.
“The club has been a constant in my life in both times of celebration and sadness. It provided a link to my community when I lived away from home, and the fellow fans have been a source of both strength and inspiration to me.
“It is for this reason that I am determined to document these stories and give Bury FC fans a voice through this difficult time.”
For the exhibition, Zoë and her fellow Bury fans have assembled artefacts which include signed shirts, historic programmes, scarves and handmade fan scrapbooks from the seventies. One fan even offered his trusty drum which he took to Bury games.
“People have been incredibly generous with their time and their valued possessions and I have been able to collect a real treasure trove of artefacts which truly represent the emotional value this club has to its supporters.”
Zoë has been recording the stories that come with each artefact, too.
“It has been a wonderful experience to sit with Bury FC fans and listen to what the club means to them. How these artefacts, which will form the heart of the exhibition, now represent the relationship they have with the club and their community.”
Artist Letty McHugh has collected the memories of female fans and screen printed them onto a 5ft long scarf whilst fashion designer Sophie Hird has modified the Bury football shirts to give them a vibrant new look.
Fans of other clubs are welcome and encouraged to wear their club colours, share fan stories, memorabilia and photos.
The exhibition is part of the annual Design Manchester festival, whose theme this year is about being ‘a year angrier’, which is exactly how Bury fans are feeling right now.
“I want to celebrate the fact that Bury fans want to rebuild and create a club for the fans by the fans. It’s ultimately about people power and a real opportunity to pull the community together.
“It’s about communicating the resilience and grit of being from a Greater Manchester town and I’m proud of it.”
Zoë believes that the exhibition has created some optimism that the club can come back from the ashes and doesn’t hide her faith in a comeback. “I’m very optimistic that driving force will create something positive from the ashes of the club. We are Bury, we will be back!”
The We Are Bury exhibition takes place at Arch 7 Temperance St, Mayfield, Manchester M12 6HR on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th November from 11am till 6pm. Admission free.