CVA are pleased to announce the How did we get here? / Where do we go now?’ exhibition by acclaimed British photographer and visual artist Simon Roberts is NOW OPEN. 

Offering Chester residents and visitors the opportunity to explore the current state of Britain and the society we live in, CVA’s aim is to challenge perceptions, evoke introspection, and foster discussion on important social issues, whilst presenting the opportunity for the public to contribute to the exhibition.


The British high street has long been an integral part of our nation’s identity, reflecting the diversity of our society and acting as a hub for economic activity. However, the rapid transformation of consumer habits and the impact of global events have left our beloved high streets at a critical crossroads. Recognising the urgency to address this matter, Simon Roberts, a renowned artist known for his social commentary, presents a collection that beckons us to contemplate the course we have taken and how we move forward.

A total of 17,145 shops on high streets and other locations closed for good last year – the equivalent of 47 a day on average, according to the Centre for Retail Research. The total was up nearly 50% on the 11,449 shops that shut in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Drawing from his passion for the future of society, Roberts employs his unparalleled artistic vision to capture the essence of our contemporary landscape. The exhibition showcases a strong vision of the challenges faced within society, each piece skilfully depicts the juxtaposition of nostalgia and depletion, urging the public to confront the pressing questions that shape our society.

Roberts says: “My hope is that the exhibition, situated as it is in the heart of an urban shopping centre, will create unexpected, thought-provoking contributions to the urban spectacle, turning a former commercial space into a platform to challenge ideas and attitudes related to the current future of the British High Street. There is huge scope for empty shops and properties to fill a void by being turned into galleries and community project spaces, as this endeavour proves.”


‘How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go Now?’ transcends the realm of art, creating a prominent stimulus for discussion. The exhibition’s purpose is not merely to showcase Roberts’ extraordinary talent but to mobilise our collective consciousness towards purposeful action. The aim is to serve as a platform for stakeholders, political figures, and the public to engage in meaningful conversation, sharing ideas and perspectives on regenerating our high streets and nurturing the social and economic framework/structure/foundation of our communities.

Composed of two parts; ‘How did we get here?’ showcases various photographic and video works spanning the past 15 years of Roberts’s career; exploring identity, belonging and the complex relationship between history, place, and culture. The second part, ‘Where do we go now?’ allows visitors to participate in a series of workshops and open sessions where they are given a unique opportunity to respond creatively to the current social climate, culminating in a new artwork ‘The Public Gallery’, that will develop over the course of the exhibition.


‘How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go Now?’ encourages the public to visit the exhibition, share their stories, and contribute to the ongoing conversation. Chester Visual Arts welcome visitors to immerse themselves in this captivating visual narrative and participate in accompanying discussions, workshops, and community events, designed to generate important conversations and policies that can shape the future of our high streets. The restoration of the British high street requires a united effort paired with innovative solutions.

Together, we can forge a collective vision that ensures the British high street remains a vibrant, inclusive, and thriving hub for generations to come.


Open throughout May to 30th June, this FREE-to-enter exhibition will be held every Wednesday-Sunday from 11 am-5 pm at the previous H&M store within Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Chester, in a newly remodelled space that offers an immersive gallery environment in the heart of the city.



This exhibition is a free event, however, we greatly appreciate a donation of any amount you can, all of which goes towards supporting CVA and our mission to bring art to Chester and to secure a permanent home within the city, as a creative visual arts centre and public art gallery of international standing.

As a token of our appreciation, any donations of £5 or more, will receive a ‘How Did We Get Here? Where Do We Go Now? tote bag at the event as a thank-you gift.

Your support is greatly valued, and it will enable us to continue bringing amazing events and exhibitions to the region.