Monthly Archives: September 2010

Contemporary Heritage Curator’s Blog: Not Forgotten Exhibition Guide

September 2010
We have so many fantastic images of Not Forgotten and MemoryGarden; we must have over a 1000 already.
After deliberating over which images to use with Claire from Burnley Graphics we made a final decision and signed off the Not Forgotten Exhibition Guide.
The FREE colour guide, with beautiful photos in! is available to all visitors to Towneley Hall from TODAY or you can download it from our website right now, just click: NOT FORGOTTEN EXHIBITION GUIDE

Contemporary Heritage Curator’s Blog: Gawthorpe Hall

September 2010
What a beautiful day! Glorious sunshine and I had forgotten my camera so I have borrowed a couple of photos taken by my colleague on a walk he did last year.

We had a Contemporary Heritage meeting at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham this morning (17th) with Rachel Pollitt, the Keeper and Susan Liddell, Lancashire Museums Manager for the South, to progress ideas for the commission/s there.
This site intrigues me. Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth was a fascinating woman. A lot of thoughts are going round in my head. Rachel Pollitt has sent me off with a weighty guidebook so I can begin to unravel the history.

Contemporary Heritage Curator’s Blog: I am envious

Not Forgottten has been up for 1 week. Steve, the Head Gardener and I are in regular contact and his apprentice, Nathan, walks round every morning and checks on all the artworks. I am envious. It is a beautiful walk and very moving. Early on Monday morning (13th), I set off with my camera and bags to collect all the blackboard signs from each of the cots. Walking round the grounds and the woodland and seeing all names still clearly visible on all the blackboard signs was so moving.
We thought the rain would have washed away the names but it hadn’t. I decided to leave the blackboard markers in the cots, they looked so right and with the name still present, it would have been like removing a memorial to that person. There was something comforting about seeing so many together and so beautiful set in a cot of lavender or rosemary against the woodland or by the pond.

Contemporary Heritage Curator’s Blog: Memory Garden

The idea for Memory Garden, a specially commissioned one day event for the launch, grew out of Geraldine’s visits to Towneley, experiencing how visitors use the park and hall, and through our conversations as ideas for Not Forgotten developed.  Memory Garden was a natural progression. Simplicity was key, we wanted to emphasise the connection between John and Mary Towneley’s family, who inspired Not Forgotten, and the visitor. Geraldine spoke beautifully of this connection and I hope this will have been captured on the documentary film which will be screened in the Hall from October.
Visitors were invited to create a Memory Garden, to take a blackboard plant marker and write the name of someone who they will never see again, it may be someone who had passed away or someone who had touched their life in someway but their paths no longer cross.
They could then walk through the woodland or round the hall and choose a cot, lavender for female and rosemary for male, and plant their marker for the day in memory of that person.
Each cot represents one of John & Mary’s children and the growing herbs are a living memorial to each child, and too many more people now. A colleague of mine, who worked at the event, said she hadn’t prepared herself for how emotional MemoryGardenwas going to be because as people took a blackboard marker they started to share stories with her about the person they were remembering. 
Trees feature in Geraldine’s work and the symbolism is very important to her and never more so than in Not Forgotten. The tree represents their family tree and the cycle of life. The family portrait which Geraldine drew inspiration from was painted in 1601 and in 2010 the cycle of life continues. Not Forgotten is doing what we hoped, it is causing people to pause and consider this handsome building and its grounds for the family home it once was, a home, like any other, that experienced life, loss, love, sadness and joy.

“…we saw the painting inside that sparked it off. It was very good. Loved it (the bed)’s nice symbolism. I like the fact that you can go right up to it and touch it. We haven’t had time to see as much as we want to so maybe another visit, perhaps tomorrow.” Visitor comment


Contemporary Heritage Curator’s Blog: Installation


A blog then, this is my first and new to me. Let’s see how it goes.
I’m Rebecca Alexander, formally Keating. I’m the Visual Arts and Project Officer at Mid Pennine Arts and the curator of Contemporary Heritage.
Only a handful of days until installation week. Can it really be nearly here? People from around the country will all be descending on Towneley Hall on Monday 6 September to start installing The Work. A veil of mystery shall remain as to what the artworks are but if you just cannot wait for the launch on Saturday 11 September then I would come to Towneley on Mon 6 or Tue 7 to catch a sneak preview of ‘the work’ being craned into place. I can’t wait to see the artwork at long last in the home for which it has been created.
I am being gently encouraged to write my blog.

As we all arrived on site on the morning of Monday 6th September there was an air of excitement, the day had finally arrived! This wasn’t another site visit or meeting, this was it!

The installation team was made up of 12 people including Steve Wood and Rob Richards who are Towneley Hall Gardeners. Throughout the week they went above and beyond what was asked of or expected of them and they were absolutely fantastic to work with and great fun. They had a fantastic knack of turning up exactly when we needed them & every request, and there were many, was met with a smile. They made our lives easy and Geraldine was singing their praises all the way back to London!

It couldn’t have been a windier day and as sections of the tree were craned into place the wind whipped around us. Installation is a buzz. Seeing all our combined efforts and hard work over the many months come together and seeing the artwork created in situ is quite something.

The artworks are sited in the grounds as well as inside Towneley Hall and visitors got a great preview of the work as it came together over the week. This is the part I get nervous about. I have absolute confidence in Geraldine, the concept, and the quality and craftsmanship of the artwork but the artworks are ultimately made for visitors to Towneley so fingers were crossed as Geraldine, Mike (Towneley’s Senior Curator), and I chatted to visitors. The response from the start has been so touching, warming, very encouraging and positive.

I have got to know Towneley Hall and Park and some of the staff quite well over the past year and I have come to recognise that the park has a real ‘at home’ feel to it; it feels ‘comfortable’, like an extension of peoples’ gardens. For these visitors, it is so important that they adopt the artwork, and many have said to me that it looks at home here and that is a wonderful starting point.

I wonder if it looks too at home and this is something I will keep considering but the work is so connected to the heart of this former family home that it is important that it does not appear incongruous.

>Spaceshaping in Nelson continues


Local people in Bradley continued working with the CABE Spaceshaper toolkit to help them shape their ideas about the new Youth Centre plans. Steph ran the Spaceshaper workshop over two evenings in August. The group, who are working with local artist William Titley, visited Liverpool to think about public art and urban design and how this could be incorporated into their Youth Centre ideas.

Steph from MPA visited again on Thursday 2 September and helped the group consider creative ways of consulting with the wider community. The group had some imaginative ideas such as conducting an opinion poll by text-message, developing their own Facebook page, developing a portable ‘wish-tree’, drawing a huge portable map and asking people to annotate it … the list went on! Next week the group will make a short presentation to the Bradley Residents Association and ask them to record their hopes for the project using star-shaped post-it notes on a ‘wish wall’.

Thanks to William Titley for use of the photographs in this blog post. See the Bradley Regen Blogspot for more info http://art,%20participation%20&%20regeneration/

Contemporary Heritage: A New Way of Seeing

Mid Pennine Arts and Towneley Hall partner on the first Contemporary Heritage commission

BURNLEY’s Towneley Hall and Park is gearing up for the imminent launch of Contemporary Heritage featuring the work of nationally acclaimed artist Geraldine Pilgrim.
Not Forgotten, which opens on Saturday 11th September, forms part of Contemporary Heritage, a Mid Pennine Arts partnership programme inspired by the historic venues that Pennine Lancashire is home to. Rebecca Alexander Mid Pennine Arts’ Visual Arts and Projects Officer, said: “Pennine Lancashire has a wealth of sites, from Castles to Towers, all rich with stories and history. We are working with our partner venues to commission artists to create new work in response to these stunning locations.”
“We are passionate about the cultural heritage we have in Pennine Lancashire and the opportunity Contemporary Heritage offers visitors to experience major works of art outside a city environment by artists of national and international standing.”
Not Forgotten is the latest work of artist Geraldine Pilgrim, whose installations reveal memories and atmospheres, as well as the history of the space. It is something of a coup for Pennine Lancashire that the first commission of this flagship project has been awarded to Geraldine Pilgrim, a highly acclaimed artist whose previous work has been commissioned by organisations as varied as Girl Guides UK, English Heritage, The National Review of Live Art Festival, The National Trust and Liverpool’s Bluecoat Gallery.
The Not Forgotten installation, commissioned for Towneley Hall and Park, has been inspired by a distinctive portrait of John and Mary Towneley and their seven sons and seven daughters. The work will enable people to experience Towneley in new ways and will cast light on elements of the history of the location that present a compelling meditation on memory and loss.
Mid Pennine Arts have been working with Mike Townend, Towneley’s Senior Curator to develop the programme. Mike said: “We’re looking at new ways of using our collections – so to have provided the inspiration for a nationally recognised contemporary artist is fantastic. We really hope this will engage people and take contemporary art to a new audience.”
“People will begin to see Towneley in new ways – with installations in both the grounds and the Hall. You can stand in a window at Towneley and look out at the installation in the landscape and it gives the place a different perspective. We call it ‘Looking in: looking out’. “
Mid Pennine Arts Creative Director Nick Hunt, said: “Towneley are great partners and we are really excited that Contemporary Heritage is set to launch at Towneley. It’s a really fitting location for Geraldine Pilgrim’s installations and I’m sure Not Forgotten will prove to be extremely engaging and memorable.”
He added: “This marks the latest step for Mid Pennine Arts’ ambitions to see Pennine Lancashire become an arts, culture and heritage destination. Mid Pennine Arts bring art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives.”
If you require further information, images or would like to interview Geraldine Pilgrim, Artist, Nick Hunt, Creative Director and Rebecca Alexander, Visual Arts and Projects Officer from Mid Pennine Arts and – please call Rob Carder from Mid Pennine Arts on 01282 421 986 or email
Further Contemporary Heritage installations are being developed with our Lancashire County Council and our partner venues, Clitheroe Castle Museum, Gawthorpe Hall, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum and Turton Tower.

About Mid Pennine Arts

Mid Pennine Arts is a driving force for the arts, recognised nationally for devising and delivering exemplary integrated creative programmes. We bring art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives. The vast experience of our team ensures excellence across a range of arts disciplines and responds to identified needs. Our work with private, public or community sector clients inspires participants, unlocks aspiration and reignites civic pride.
We are an independent charity. We’re based in Pennine Lancashire but our work and influence extends way beyond into county –wide projects and into West Yorkshire. Our work has achieved national and international recognition. Our most successful work is developed through partnerships, networks and creative collaborations. Our work is people-centred and people-friendly – it celebrates diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. We embody a spirit of discovery, and integrate creative learning into all our projects. We strive for the best possible creative results, and the most ambitious impacts. We’re always aiming to break new ground in the content, the context and the outcomes of our work.