Category Archives: Visitor

In Praise of Julie

David Smith reflects on MPA’s relationship with the lovely Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Julie…Julie Hes…Julie Hesmondhalgh….Hayley Cropper…we all loved Hayley and now she’s gone….

I met Julie in the mid eighties.  I was dropping my son Craig off and picking him up each day at a three-week long summer drama course at Moorhead High School in Accrington.  Julie was a part of a friendship group of very talented girls who after A-Level Theatre Studies at Accrington and Rossendale College all went off to drama school in London together.

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Julie kept in touch with Craig whilst they were both in London and recommended him for a job acting and writing for theatre with the West Yorkshire based Company Impact.  At that time Craig tipped us off to go to see Julie at the Royal Exchange in Much Ado About Nothing where she was performing alongside her great friend Joseph Alessi son of an Accrington tailor..  She had two small roles: a maid and a soldier night watchman.  It was here that she was spotted by a casting director from Coronation Street and you know what happened from there…

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In 2001 Mid Pennine Arts was working on a major environmental arts community engagement programme called Land.  It was supporting the iconic Panopticons project.  A part of the programme was a project called Trees for Babies.  In partnership with Trees for Burnley we created a new woodland at Rowley Country Park recruiting young families from the Edith Watson Maternity Unit in Burnley.  Julie and her partner Ian Kershaw had a young daughter, Martha Mo.  When asked if she would come to a celebratory event to meet the families involved and present them with a special memento of their involvement not only did she agree without hesitation, and refuse to accept a fee, but she brought two month old Martha Mo with her!  It was an evening to remember. The clue to Julie’s feeling for people was the way she engaged with the young children who came along, making time to speak to each one as they came up with their family to receive a hand-made book:  Trees for Babies…and of course we planted a tree in the new woodland for Martha Mo.

Did you know that Julie asked her fellow cast members not to buy her a present on leaving ‘the Street’?  She asked them to make a donation instead to a charity in Accrington: possibly ‘Maundy Relief’ for which she is a patron.

….and back to the drama course at Moorhead High School in the mid eighties…who set up and managed the project?  Mid Pennine Arts, of course! Have you heard the theory about the importance of the eco structure that exists in the arts, supporting and developing early signs of talent…?  Mid Pennine’s role here is a small example of how it works.  That course was important for me too.  I was so impressed by the school that I went on to work there as Deputy Head for 13 years and then came to Mid Pennine Arts having seen at first hand what it can create and deliver for the communities it serves.

…and what of Julie?  Go to see her at the Royal Exchange in February in Simon Stephen’s new play Blindsided.  Then you might return to see her astonishing performance in Black Roses: the killing of Sophie Lancaster.  Julie is a terrific actress who has never forgotten her roots in Pennine Lancashire .

Yes, we all love Julie…

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Emma Booth, 15, reflects on her week of work experience with MPA.

I must say, my time spent here at Mid Pennine Arts has been a huge eye-opener to the massive range of art and artists out there. Being a teen on work experience, I knew there was more to art than pencil, paint and paper, but I have never really considered art beyond my own passions.

By delving deep into the heart of what MPA is about, I discovered knowledge about their past projects and the impact they have had on people who visit them. For example, the Contemporary Heritage projects have taught me that there is more to art than what it looks like. Of course, the aesthetics of a physical piece are important, but projects such as Not Forgotten have shown me that the story behind a piece of artwork is of an even greater importance, and when one reads deeper into that story, the beauty that was originally there shines brighter and illuminates the site.

As well as the many stand-alone projects that have been created, I have also learned about the heaps of work that MPA does with children and young people. Researching Creative Learning projects such as Padiham Greenway and Historical Tea Parties has made me smile widely, especially after reading about the work MPA has done with children with learning or behavioural difficulties. Right now, thinking about the massive impact MPA’s work must have had on these children, attempting to put it into words is proving a difficult task.

Being at MPA has not only given me an insight into the many forms and meanings of art in the world, but has also given me a taste of what the world of work is like. I remember sitting outside the office back at my primary school, waiting for my mum to finish in the teachers’ meetings that were held, itching to burst inside and share my thoughts and ideas. Well, MPA has given me that opportunity, and with each meeting I was a part of, I couldn’t help but marvel at the wonderful future projects being discussed that held so much potential. Of course, the world of work is not all fun and games, but even sorting through artists’ applications and data has taught me about the vast variety of art forms.

I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time at MPA, and I am absolutely certain that my experience will come in handy at some point in the future. I would like to say a big, big thank you to all the colleagues at MPA, whose friendly natures made me feel comfortable and welcome in the new atmosphere. And for all the coffee!

Emma Booth
Work Experience Volunteer

Photo of Emma Booth for blog compressed

Places to visit this Easter

With the weather so variable, we thought we would share a variety of ideas for things to see and do this Easter.

Helmshore Mills Textile Museum

Helmshore Mills Textile Museum.  Here you can soak up the atmosphere of the historic mills and witness original machinery at work as well as having fun and learning in an exceptional environment.  The museum offers activities, events and special exhibitions, one of which is part of our Contemporary Heritage programme.   The spectacular No Match, created by international sculptor Claire Morgan, is a site specific installation inspired by Claire’s discoveries during her research residency in October 2011.   See the museum’s website for details of opening times and entrance fees.  Not to be missed!

Clitheroe

Clitheroe is a great day out at any time.  Not only does it offer a large variety of unique and boutique shops there is also a fantastic selection of cafés, bars and restaurants to enjoy.  There are many walks that begin in Clitheroe which you can find out more about here.    Clitheroe Castle Keep is currently host to TAKEN, another of our Contemporary Heritage commissions.  This sound installation by contemporary classical composer Ailís Ní Ríain is inspired by the story of the Lancashire witches.  TAKEN allows the visitor to imagine how the 12 individuals may have felt during their last four months in captivity whilst awaiting trial.

Greenways in Padiham and Preston

The Preston Greenway was constructed along the formerly disused railway line that formed part of the Bamber Bridge to Preston extension of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.  The greenway links Penwortham, Bamber Bridge and Preston city centre and forms part of the National Cycle Network.

The Padiham Greenway was created on a disused railway line that runs between Rosegrove in Burnley and Padiham.  The Padiham Greenway has been developed as part of a longer route between Great Harwood and Burnley which is designed to create an off-road trail that connects people to facilities and open spaces in and around the towns that flank the route.

Panopticons

Have you visited the Panopticons yet?  These iconic, contemporary landmarks were designed to attract visitors into the countryside to discover the stunning landscapes that Pennine Lancashire has to offer.  There are four Panopticons each situated on a high-point site commanding spectacular views.  For more information click here.

You can also download various maps and guides for walking around the Panopticons and other areas of interest here.

Have fun whatever you do!

 

Local Children help Artists on Preston’s new Greenway

The Preston to Bamber Bridge Greenway has seen additional development over the last few weeks through the installation of three sculptures. Commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts, artists Martin Maudsley and John Packer developed a creative engagement programme that engaged the local communities and school children surrounding the Greenway through workshops and events which took place last year.

Two of the sculptures are educational pieces based on train couplings, reflecting the history of the area. These have been engraved with poetry from the children who participated in the school engagement programme, led by artist Martin Maudsley. The children from St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary and Middleforth C of E Primary School, spent time on the Greenway discovering natural and historical elements of the site through sensory walks and collecting objects for drawing. The poetry was a result of their experiences and what the Greenway meant to them. The pieces have magnifying and fish eye lenses incorporated into the couplings to allow the surroundings to be viewed more closely.

The third sculpture took the form of seating. With the aid of artist John Packer, pupils from Lostock Hall Community High School & Arts College interpreted the ideas of the primary school children and developed them into designs. The end result was seating based loosely on leaf designs.

All three pieces have been built by John and can be found along the main route into Preston and around the Whitehouse Junction Nature Reserve area of the Greenway. The main access points of the Greenway are Avenham Park, Leyland Road opposite the fire station and Factory Lane after the junction with Old Tram Road.

Development of the Greenway initially began in 2010 and saw the disused railway line turned into a multi user Greenway suitable for walking and cycling. The area was surfaced creating a path suitable for outdoor activities and the route, which is open to the public, now forms part of the National Cycle Network.

Helen Yates, Mid Pennine Arts Community and Projects Officer said, “These sculptures add to the offering of the Greenway making it an even more exciting and inviting place to spend the afternoon walking and cycling. It will also encourage schools to use the Greenway as a new learning environment.”

Brockholes is the Art of Destination.

Lancashire’s new wetland centre, Brockholes, which opened last year as a haven for birds and wildlife, is set to attract a different type of visitor this month. For one day, Brockholes will host Art of Destination, a unique conference event that aims to stimulate and inspire by exploring a range of exciting creative projects.

Art of Destination brings together projects that take derelict or unregarded space and transform it into somewhere special – new community assets, new kinds of visitor attraction, or ‘destination art’. Brockholes itself is a prime example – centred on a spectacular floating village of ecobuildings that were commissioned from an international design competition.

And Brockholes will have a unique look for the day, with an eye-popping temporary installation on site, specially commissioned from international artist Steve Messam.

Sneak peak of the temporary installation by Steve Messam which can be seen at Brockholes at the conference

The event, organised by Mid Pennine Arts in collaboration with Lancashire County Council, will showcase partnership work in the County, highlighting the European award winning Padiham Greenway programme alongside high profile, inspiring case studies from the region, the UK and beyond.

Guest speakers will include French artist Marco Dessardo, the London architecture collective Assemble and specialists from Liverpool Biennial, Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Grizedale Forest. Commissioned artist Steve Messam will also be contributing to the debate, in spite of the small inconvenience that, on the day, he will be based at a studio in Shanghai! Steve’s installation on the site will be accessible to Brockholes visitors, on the day itself and right through to Easter weekend.

Art of Destination takes place on Thursday 29 March and will be introduced by County Councillor Kevin Ellard, Chair of Lancashire County Council Arts Task Group. The day is aimed at arts specialists and enthusiasts, as well as professionals in environment, regeneration and public realm, education and public policy.

For more information visit www.midpenninearts.org.uk/art-of-destination

Tickets are available through eventbrite www.artofdestination.eventbrite.co.uk

Popular Sound Installation Extended throughout Anniversary Celebrations.

We are delighted to announce that we have been invited by Lancashire County Council to extend TAKEN, the sound installation in Clitheroe Castle Keep by contemporary classical composer Ailís Ni RíainOriginally the installation was due to close on the 9 April 2012, but TAKEN can now be experienced until the 3 June 2012.

TAKEN, inspired by the plight of the individuals accused of witchcraft in 1612, evokes the voices in the last days and nights of the twelve accused.  Held captive in a dark, dank, cramped airless cell that measured just 20 by 12 feet, one of the accused died awaiting trial while others began to suffer psychologically in the appalling conditions.  We can only begin to imagine the absolute terror, fear and sadness experienced.  And maybe for some, the final defiance and peace found through good memories and hope for the next life.  The effect inside the space is unrelenting, your imagination not letting you escape the voices of the accused. Some visitors have described it as unsettling, haunting and eerie.

The second experience of TAKEN is from the outside, where you can walk around the Keep on an elevated walkway and at ground level.  This was a deliberate decision on Ailís’s part.  “I was not content with the music simply wafting out and being carried off by the wind so we ensured that speakers were cunningly concealed around the Keep to ensure that the music carries. The visitor has the experience of being a voyeur, aware of people being held captive in the Keep, hearing them humming, however now at a comfortable distance, as the music is mixed with the sounds of the everyday world continuing to spin, spin, spin and they can walk away from the wrongly accused…”

To create her sound installation, Ailís worked with 12 local people.  The ‘hummers’ spent their time together with Ailís, understanding her work as a composer and how she creates her music.  Each person hummed a song that had a personal poignancy to them which became part of the installation.

Ailís said, “I am very pleased that TAKEN at Clitheroe Castle has been extended to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the trial of the Lancashire Witches.  It provides us with the ideal opportunity to take some time and remember those whose lives were taken from them based on inference, inaccuracies, and misinformation and perhaps for simply being different.  The incarceration, trial and hanging of the Lancashire Witches was a travesty, one which has many contemporary resonances. It is important to remember in order not to forget.”

With the 400th Anniversary of the Lancashire Witches upon us, this is the perfect opportunity to experience this thought provoking installation.  TAKEN will continue to run until the 3 June 2012. Immerse yourself in sound and thought as the Keep is brought to life through music.  Free entry to the keep.

TAKEN was commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts in collaboration with Lancashire County Council.

TAKEN is part of A Contemporary Heritage: new way of seeing, Mid Pennine Arts’ ambitious partnership programme of contemporary art commissions at some of Lancashire’s most colourful and intriguing historic venues.  The commissions, inspired by Lancashire’s heritage, animate each site and offer visitors a rare chance to experience major works of art by artists of national and international standing outside urban areas.

Weavers’ Triangle App – The Journey Part 2

Stuart Marshall from Treasure Trails takes us through the second part of his journey in creating the Weavers’ Triangle app….

The route of the trail came easily.  I wanted to take the participant on a journey through time and so the Weavers’ Triangle Visitor Centre was an ideal and easily located starting point. Sandygate Square forms a focal point of the area’s regeneration and has been the location of recent events and performances.  This was a logical end point to bring the story up-to-date and look into the future.  Between these two points the canal and Trafalgar Street offered opportunities to tell the story of the canal, mills and the people who worked in them.

Once I’d worked out the route and identified the key locations along it, I could then source the archive material to create image slideshows, videos and sound bites which would play when the user reached points of interest along the route.  The internet has put information at our fingertips but there really is no better way of spending an afternoon than exploring what our local libraries have to offer.  Burnley Library was a fantastic resource and an essential source of the many archive images I used within the app.

To create part of the audio soundtrack I recorded local dialect poet Mervyn Hadfield reciting some of his stories.  Five minutes of recording were followed by a most enjoyable couple of hours reminiscing about our respective childhoods growing up among the cobbled terraced streets of Burnley and Rochdale and our parents’ working lives in the cotton mills.  Common experiences separated by thirty years, but a world that has now largely disappeared.

A trip to the North West Sound Archive at Clitheroe Museum (where reel-to-reel tapes and C60 cassettes still exist!) filled the gaps with oral histories of mill workers and bargemen, which they were happy to exchange for my recordings of Mervyn’s memories.

It has been interesting to see how people have reacted differently to the various forms of media.  Contrasting how a location looks now, compared with archive images showing the same place in the past, always seems to delight the user.   My own favourite is a hole in the wall alongside the canal.  If you look through it in the real world a patch of derelict scrubland is revealed.   Looking through the hole using the app reveals something completely different, a journey back in time to what was there before and how it sounded.  You’ll have to find out for yourself what that was though!

Without wanting to sound too deep and analytical, the project does feel like a coming together of many strands of my life – my family’s connections to the cotton industry; the History degree I thought I’d never use directly; a career of over twenty years in software development; more recent experience as a trail writer; and reacquainting myself with a town I’d not really visited since my dad used to take me to the Turf in the days when Burnley actually had a good football team.   If this was a reality TV program I’d probably say that I’d been “on a personal journey”.

So the app is now out there, available on the iStore and Android markets.  A lifetime’s ambition has been accomplished.  Published, at last!

ABOUT TREASURE TRAILS

Treasure Trails devise Trails that inform, entertain and educate people in inspiring ways.  Our Trails capture the imagination, often using game thinking and game mechanics to engage users with their environment.  We now develop location-aware apps for smart phones which provide exciting opportunities to create media-rich trails, guides, stories – and of course puzzles, games and treasure hunts – using a mix of audio, video, text and images to immerse the visitor in their location.  Our company has produced outstanding tailor made Trails for major organisations such as the BBC, National Trust, the Woodland Trust, and many more.