The Preston Market Mystery Project was developed through a series of visits that John Newling made to Preston during 2005 and 2006, in which he became intrigued with the city’s historic Covered Markets. The artist was particularly interested in the activity of transaction and exchange that defines the markets, both with respect to the transaction of goods, and the social exchange between the people who work and shop in the space. The project was developed to celebrate this exchange and to begin conversations about importance of the ‘unknown’ within a city, how mystery contributes to a sense of place and what this means in the context of regeneration.
The project consisted of three separate but interrelated events: The Insurance Stall, Voicing Mysteries and The Knowledge Meal. It provoked a re-evaluation of the Covered Markets as spaces for evening performances and events and led to other activities in the space, most notably a drive-in cinema, which was organised by Preston organisation They Eat Culture, Preston Guild and Abandon Normal Devices, as part of the AND Festival in 2011.