Tag Archives: Lancashire

Revealing the Spodden Valley

This spring we are delighted to welcome a new but familiar face to the MPA team as Diana Hamilton gets to work as Project Manager for Spodden Valley Revealed This is our  major new project promising some transformational impacts for communities in the Whitworth area of Rossendale. Unfolding over three years,  Spodden Valley Revealed will explore the long timeline of human settlement there, through an engagement programme involving local people of all ages, and a range of exciting artist commissions.  The end result will be an innovative, linear heritage destination for local people and visitors to explore, adding rich content to the off-road cycling and walking route which will become the Valley of Stone Greenway.

Diana has worked around the North West, managing arts and public realm projects, for over 10 years. She is passionate about telling the stories of a place in a creative and engaging way and re-interpreting heritage for new audiences.

Previously, Diana led on the development of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which stretches 33 miles from Salford to Bacup, putting together a 6-year plan to secure Arts Council capital funding for its redevelopment.  She has supported the creation of a brand new Sculpture Centre at the heart of the trail in Bury.  Most recently, she managed an experimental public art programme across five new interchange sites for Transport for Greater Manchester, including temporary commissions, digital trails and events, testing a new way for working for that organisation.

Diana has worked across many other cultural events, opening up unexpected spaces such as a medieval tower and shopping space for Barnaby Festival, and local churches, parks and an armoury for Bury Light Night.  For Station Stories, she partnered with Manchester Literature Festival to create a live storytelling event at Manchester Piccadilly station, taking an audience in headphones on a journey of six newly commissioned stories, told by an unknown storyteller in the throng of commuters.

This depth of experience and breadth of imagination, combined with her knowledge and understanding of the North West, mean that Diana is brilliantly well equipped to take forward our unique vision for Spodden Valley Revealed.  With Diana getting to work now, we are delighted to be getting started on this fantastic project.

You can contact Diana via email for more information on Spodden Valley Revealed.

Diana Hamilton - Project Manager for Spodden Valley Revealed - March 2016

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Family History Exploration: Computers and Creativity!

Starting in summer 2013 and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, we’ve been helping the local community explore Gawthorpe Hall, through oral history, photography and the creative arts, in a project called Portraits of the Past.   We wanted to capture what the Hall means to the community that surrounds it. Focussing on the heritage of this magnificent 17th century house in Padiham, Lancashire, we looked to encourage local people to engage with its magnificent collections and learn about the fascinating stories of the people who would have lived, worked and used the Hall and its grounds.

To achieve this we’ve organised a series of events and activities and the most recent was on the 4th April, when a group of people interested in exploring their family history joined us for a day. It started with exploring Gawthorpe Hall and the history of the Shuttleworths and then they researched their own ancestry and finally explored the mysteries of creativity!

We started the day at Gawthorpe Hall where Rachael Pollitt de Duran, the Museum Manager, gave us a guided tour along with lots of information about the family that had lived there, the Kay-Shuttleworths.

Some members of the group had not been inside Gawthorpe Hall before and found the building and its history fascinating. In the Long Gallery it was hard work for everyone to obey the instruction not to touch the amazing wallpaper, thank goodness there’s a small sample to touch!

Ughtred James Kay-Shuttleworth - Caricature in Vanity Fair 1904

Ughtred James Kay-Shuttleworth – Caricature in Vanity Fair 1904

Once the tour was completed we headed down to the kitchen where the Lancashire County Council Community Heritage Team gave a presentation on how to begin tracing your own ancestors, using the Shuttleworth family as an example. Lots more was discovered about the family during the presentation, not least some of the more interesting first names. The group was particularly taken with Ughtred!

The team guided the group through the various online sources available for research as well as providing useful tips for getting the most out of searches. Everyone was very pleased to learn that the websites Ancestry and Find My Past are available to use for free through Lancashire Libraries, where you can book up to two hours computer time a day. You can find out more about the online resources available from the county here. As Fiona from the team said, “they’ve paid so you don’t have to”.

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Next everyone headed over to Padiham Town Hall, which also contains Padiham Library. We stopped for lunch, although in fact, the discussions about Gawthorpe Hall and family history continued throughout. After everyone was refreshed the group split into two.

Group One worked with the Community Heritage Team in the library’s computer suite getting to grips with researching via online resources. Group Two worked with artist Cath Ford to discover creative ways to display their family trees, photographs and mementos. Although many of the group were not experienced computer users, the thought of doing ‘art’ seemed much more frightening that using the computers! That didn’t last long though. Cath is very experienced at working with people who think they can’t be creative. It didn’t take her long to get them all experimenting with frames, craft paper, old magazines and other materials to create backdrops for some of the family history artifacts they had collected. Marriage certificates, discharge papers, medals, stamps, maps, adverts and of course photographs were added to flat and box frames to create very thoughtful and personal pieces of art. With the added bonus of being able to put on display some of these wonderful mementos. Nobody finished completely, mainly because they were leaving space for items they had at home, but they left with their frames and a bucket load of materials and ideas.

Halfway through the afternoon Group One and Two swapped over and the feedback was that each had enjoyed both activities. Cath and the Community Heritage Team made a good number of creative and computer converts!

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The final event of the Portraits of the Past project will take place at Gawthorpe Hall on April 26th between 1-4pm. Find out more on our website, but to whet your appetite…

Take a walk through the grounds with storyteller Steve Fairclough; discover the joys of letterpress printing with Print for Love of Wood; explore the strange delights of The Palace of Curiosities and meet Betsy the Victorian scullery maid!

A Volunteer’s Progress

Dominique Dunand-Clarke reflects on her time with MPA (so far)!

On a warm April morning in 2011 I crossed the park and climbed the steep hill to Clitheroe Castle, I was going to take part in an arts project which I knew involved the Castle, a composer and a recording of my voice as I hummed a song. As somebody who has never listed singing as one of my talents I was a little apprehensive. I soon realised I needn’t have been when I met Rebecca Alexander and Lucy Green, two members of the Mid Pennine Arts team, who were very friendly and put me at my ease as well as assuring me that however bad my singing was the talented compositional skills of Ailís Ní Ríain would transform the sound!

My first day at MPA

The project was called Taken and Ailís did indeed create a beautiful sound installation from the donated hums of the local people who took part, which was played in the castle keep for a year and transformed the space. While I was at the castle I plucked up the courage to ask Lucy and Rebecca if I would be able to volunteer for Mid Pennine Arts to gain some experience while I was at university.

I am glad I did because three years later and I’m still here and have gained experience in an extremely wide variety of areas including: assisting artists with research to dressing as an Elizabethan Lady of the Manor; updating MPA’s website to hanging photographs outdoors in the rain, on a windy day in Burnley’s town centre, which as most people who work in the arts will know, is a very useful skill to master.

A windy day in Burnley.

While volunteering for MPA I have had the opportunity to gain training such as being qualified to deliver the bronze and silver arts awards as well as learning about marketing and project management. After I graduated from university and was looking for employment within the arts it was invaluable to be volunteering for an organisation with so many contacts within the arts community and my work with MPA certainly enabled me to apply for my current job in arts management.

Flicker

Volunteering has been a hot topic recently with questions raised about how helpful it is to volunteer as an unemployed young person. I would say that if you volunteer for the right organisation you get back what you put in. Mid Pennine Arts has certainly been the right organisation for me and I am still enjoying my varied role here, the best part of it being that I am never bored!

If you would like the opportunity to find out more about volunteering with Mid Pennine Arts, do not hesitate to email me. I am normally in the office every Friday however I will be out of the office on Friday 17th and Friday 24th of January.

Portraits of the Past

Starting in the summer this project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has been exploring Gawthorpe Hall through oral history, photography and the creative arts, in a project we’re calling Portraits of the Past.

Gawthorpe Hall is much loved by the Padiham and Burnley community who surround it.  The historic property also currently hosts Catherine Bertola’s contribution to our Contemporary Heritage series, entitled Flicker.  We asked for people to share their photographs of Gawthorpe to develop an online archive, and to let us record their memories of time spent there to create oral histories that will be stored at the North West Sound Archive.  The project is ongoing with schools’ work starting later in the autumn but we had some fabulous days in August and September that we’d like to tell you about.

In August we had two days of family friendly activities on the lawn outside the Gawthorpe Hall entrance.  On both occasions we were joined by David and Andrew from the sound archive who eagerly recorded visitors to the event.  We were also pleased to have members of Padiham & District Photographic Society with us, who introduced visitors to their work as well as some fantastic antique cameras kindly loaned by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.     PoP day - 21.8.13 5

To encourage the budding photographers of tomorrow (and their parents), on the 21st artist Cath Ford ran a workshop making miniature cameras out of scrap materials which went down a storm.  All afternoon you could see children wandering around the grounds proudly wearing or pretending to take Image by C Ford - participant in activity day - 21.8.13 - 2pictures with their matchbox creations.  There were also photo scavenger hunts for those with a working camera or camera phone!

On the 28th artist Caroline Eccles held a mask making workshop as well as providing a huge dressing up box which young and not so young couldn’t resist, the fake moustaches were particularly popular!  Once the masks and costumes were on everyone had a lot of fun posing for pictures in front of the hall.  Joss joined us for the day as a volunteer and took some wonderful pictures of the action.

Image by C Eccles - participant in activity day - 28.8.13 IMG_0518

In September we had a wonderful day at Padiham Library and Gawthorpe Hall concentrating on collecting oral histories.  Once again David and Andrew from NW Sound Archive joined us and were kept busy recording memories, new and old, of times spent at the Hall.  In the morning Alison and Carole Alison and Carole - Padiham Libraryat the library organised a coffee morning and were so welcoming to us and all those who visited, we lost count of how many brews they made!  They had been very busy persuading library users to visit on the day and tell us their stories.  Most people were rather bashful at the idea; we heard many times that, ‘you won’t be interested in me’.  But they were wrong and once Melanie and Dom had enticed them with cakes and a brew they all relaxed enough to make a recording.  We were also made very welcome Bob - Padiham Libraryby Ann and Bob at the Padiham Archive which, along with the library, is part of the town hall.  They are custodians of a huge number of artefacts ranging from the everyday to items of important historical significance.  If you’re interested in the history of Padiham you should pay them a visit, there isn’t anything about the town that they don’t know!

In the afternoon David Smith joined Dom, Andrew and David at Gawthorpe Hall for the Heritage Open Day.  It was an extremely busy afternoon at Gawthorpe and Rachel and her team very kindly set us up in the Dining Hall where we were perfectly placed to draw in visitors who had tales to share.  Of the stories we’ve recorded so far some cover every day uses of the hall and grounds as a place to walk the dog or picnic with the family, others recall working there when it was a family home and others of childhood encounters with Lady Shuttleworth.  They are all fascinating and equally worthy of a place in the Portraits of the Past oral history collection.

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far.  You can add your own photographs to the online archive here or get in touch with us if you need help doing that.  If you have any memories of Gawthorpe Hall you want preserved get in touch with us and we’ll send the boys from NW Sound Archive round!

There’s a lot more to come as artists work with schools this autumn term, so look out for further blogs.  In the meanwhile huge thanks to the North West Sound Archive, Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham Library, Padiham & District Photographic Society, Padiham Archives, MOSI and of course our funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Image by C Ford - participant in activity day - 21.8.13

Opportunities for accomplished project managers at Mid Pennine Arts

Mid Pennine Arts is recruiting.   We need additional support to help us maintain and extend our busy portfolio of creative learning and community engagement projects.  We are therefore seeking one or more experienced, versatile project managers, initially on short term agreements, but with the opportunity to develop longer term relationships.  If you have a strong track record of developing and delivering high quality, project-based work, and would like to contribute to the work of our team, we would love to hear from you.

About Us

MPA is the commissioning agency based in Pennine Lancashire and developing projects across Lancashire and beyond.  We commission high quality creative work through a variety of collaborations and in response to the distinctive contexts of our natural, built and social environments.  Our projects interrogate and celebrate what is unique about our area, our heritage and our communities.  We aim to originate exciting creative work that has lasting impact for participants, audiences and our project partners.  MPA brings art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives.

MPA was established in 1966 and has a long and proud track record of working in our communities.  Our work is centred on contemporary visual arts but uses a broad creative palette.  MPA has developed specialisms in commissioning work in landscape and public spaces and in heritage settings.  Our portfolio of recent work has included the Panopticons contemporary landmarks and the Contemporary Heritage series of major new commissions in heritage locations.  All of our projects include dimensions of engagement and learning for young people and adults.

Over many years we have built up a reputation for high quality work especially with schools and young people.  MPA works with some 60 schools each year.  In 2013 our creative learning team have made advisory visits to 90 schools, working in partnership with the ACE Bridge Organisation, Curious Minds, as cultural advocates for Lancashire.

Key partners for MPA projects have recently included local authorities, Lancashire Museums, environmental agencies and our fellow arts organisations.  We believe strongly in collaboration and all of our work is developed through a variety of partnerships.

MPA attracts funding from a variety of sources, including Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council and lottery distributors.  With less revenue funding now available, we generate funds project by project, from multiple sources, to help sustain our organisation.  All our team contribute to this effort, which is vital to our future.

Our Team

MPA maintains a multidisciplinary team to originate, curate and project manage our busy programme.  In autumn 2013 a number of circumstances will be reducing this team, but MPA’s programme will be busier than ever.  So we are seeking additional support.

We have a number of projects already in progress and further exciting projects in development.  So we want to reinforce our team as soon as we can.  We are therefore seeking experienced, versatile individuals who might be available at relatively short notice to contribute to our team over the next few months.

Our Programme

Projects already confirmed include these:

  • Portraits of the Past – an extended engagement programme built around our Contemporary Heritage commission at Gawthorpe Hall and celebrating the place of this Jacobean gem in the life of the local community.
  • Youth Music – Two new projects resourced by this lottery fund and engaging groups of young people and early years children.
  • Creative Communities – A programme of structured volunteering for young adults, funded by Awards for All, providing opportunities to work with us on a variety of exciting projects.
  • Burnley Rivers – Partnership work with the Urban Rivers Enhancement Scheme to celebrate the Brun and the Calder.

In addition a number of projects in development are likely to add to our workload in the near future:

  • Contemporary HeritageMajor new commissions for 2014 and beyond, and engagement programmes to support them.
  • Spodden Valley Revealed – Creatively interpreting the ancient and modern heritage of the area around Whitworth.
  • The Three Towers – A strategic partnership programme to celebrate the heritage and realise the destination potential of the West Pennine Moors.
  • Super Wet Way – Participation in a major new partnership programme themed around the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with Canal & River Trust, our fellow arts organisations and others.
  • Truce – An engagement programme for Accrington throughout 2014, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

We will also be continuing to originate projects and develop partnerships.

The Opportunity

We would like to identify probably two individuals to join our team on a part-time, short term, contract basis.  Initially we are able to offer a term of around three months, but we are looking to identify contributors with whom we can establish a relationship for the longer term.  In the future, we anticipate maintaining a more flexible workforce that can adapt swiftly to changing circumstance, so we are keen to build a group of regular associates.

Terms are flexible according to experience, but as a guide we envisage basing the remuneration on a full time salary of £20,000 to £23,000 (pro rata) for a commitment of around 2.5 to 3 days per week over three months.  This is open to negotiation for the self-employed and for exceptional candidates.  Proven capacity to help generate further income may be an influential factor.

Person Specification

The individuals we seek will be able to evidence certain core skills:

  • Substantial experience of managing complex or extended projects.
  • Experience of working with a wide variety of people.
  • Accustomed to building partnerships and working collaboratively.
  • Excellent written communication skills, and ability to produce convincing funding proposals and project reports.
  • Highly organised, capable of multi-tasking and prioritising a busy workload.
  • A self-starter able to identify opportunities and realise them.
  • A team player who will enjoy working collaboratively within the MPA team.
  • An understanding of our geographical area (social-economic context) or of comparable communities.

In addition, you should have one or more specialism(s) that will be particularly relevant to our programme of work:

  • Creative learning work, with an understanding of the National Curriculum and experience of key programmes like Arts Awards and Artsmark.
  • Contemporary visual arts, with experience of curating work outside of the gallery setting.
  • Experience of work in landscape, the natural environment and rural contexts.
  • Community engagement, with a range of resources for effectively involving groups and individuals in creative projects.
  • A focus on heritage and the rich fund of creative possibilities that it offers.
  • Issues around sense of place, destination and local identity.

How to Apply

If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you.

Please apply, using our standard job application form (downloadable from our website) to highlight your most relevant experience and your reasons for wanting to work with MPA.  You should attach an up to date CV, and a covering letter if you wish.  Please submit by email only to:

melanie@midpenninearts.org.uk

Please submit your application by Friday 30 August.  There is no formal timetable for recruitment, but we aim to act without delay.  We will acknowledge all applicants.  If you are shortlisted, we will invite you for interview as soon as can be arranged.

To find out more about us and our projects look at our website, Facebook page and Vimeo channel.  If you have any questions about our work or this opportunity, please contact Melanie Diggle, MPA Finance & Admin Director, as above, or on 01282 421986.

Contemporary Heritage Launch Events Defy the Weather!

With two launch events on subsequent weekends in March the MPA team, artists and venue staff have been working flat out to have everything ready on time.  All was planned down to the last detail including preparations for rainy spring weather.  What we got was two weekends of bitterly cold winter weather including serious snowstorms for the second opening.  Despite this everything went ahead, with the addition of extra layers, hats, scarves and gloves!

K-Scope at Turton Tower on Saturday 16 March

Turton Tower is a wonderful gem of a venue that is a delight to explore.  Owl Project‘s installation there is in the library and the gardens.  As the rooms are rather small we thought we’d have a marquee in the beautiful gardens for refreshments, speeches etc, not realising just how cold it would be.  Thankfully our guests are a hardy lot and over 80 turned up for the event and enjoyed the hot coffee and cupcakes provided by the team at the Tower’s cafe.  We were especially pleased that so many brought their children with them as K-Scope is an ideal contemporary art installation for young people.  The wooden analogue Listening to a speaker horncomputer in the library is interactive, you need to turn the handle to see it come alive, so kids (big and small) loved that and there was a queue for much of the afternoon.  As for the listening horns in the gardens, all the guests were fascinated by what they could hear.  Was it really the sound of James Kay’s amazing subterranean workshop?

MPA’s Creative Director, Nick Hunt, acted as master of ceremonies for the launch and we were delighted to be joined by Steph Murfin, Pennine Lancashire Museums Curator of Applied Arts, who talked about the ‘Wonderful Things’ campaign which is celebrating the amazing, weird and wonderful collections and stories of Pennine Lancashire Museums.

K-ScopeThe final speaker was Simon Blackmore, one of the three artists, along with Antony Hall and Steve Symons, that make up Owl Project.  He explained the research and development that had taken place that had lead to the creation of K-Scope which gave a fascinating insight into the history of Turton Tower.  Simon, Antony and Steve spent the rest of the afternoon talking to people about the work and demonstrating how it works, which was much enjoyed by the guests.

Flicker at Gawthorpe Hall on Saturday 23 March

On Friday 22nd we woke to snow storms, snow drifts and freezing cold weather.  After much deliberation of the logistical problems (staff being able to get to Gawthorpe to open it, for example) we decided to go ahead.  120 people had booked to come to the launch and in all honesty we thought less than a quarter would make it, so we were delighted when over 80 people joined us to celebrate the opening of this beautiful and emotive work.  Many of the volunteers from the photoshoot, which was integral to the work, joined us and enjoyed trying to spot themselves in the finished installation.  Unfortunately the artist, Catherine Bertola, wasn’t able to make the journey from the North East and was very disappointed not to be there. However we were lucky to have some other very special guests who helped us open the work.  Nick Hunt acted as MC again and introduced: Bruce Jackson, County Heritage Manager, Lancashire CC; Jane Beardsworth, Regional Director, Arts Council England and Co Cllr John Shedwick, Chairman of Lancashire CC who did the official honours of declaring the installation open.  In lieu of Catherine, MPA’s Project Manager for Contemporary Heritage, Lucy Green spoke and thanked all the many volunteers, partners and funders who have made Flicker possible.  It was a bitter sweet moment as it was Lucy’s last day with MPA (she’s moving to Contact Theatre, Manchester) and a bit emotional for the rest of the team.

FlickerWe were delighted with the reaction to Flicker and how worthwhile the guests thought their journey through the snow had been.

As with K-Scope at Turton Tower many of the guests had not visited the venue before and as well as enjoying the contemporary art had discovered a fascinating heritage venue that they will visit again.  The perfect response to a Contemporary Heritage installation.

Flickers of the past

As a volunteer at MPA I was excited when I was asked to help with a photo shoot for the upcoming Contemporary Heritage installation at Gawthorpe Hall, Flicker by Catherine Bertola.  I have visited the hall on a couple of occasions and I felt privileged to be able to see behind the scenes and learn about the history of Gawthorpe from some very knowledgable people.

For the first two days of the shoot I tried to be as helpful as possible, getting people into costume and making sure everybody was comfortable.  Two sets of re-enactment groups took part in the project and it was engrossing to see them transform from 21st century people into characters from the 1600’s.  Even more amazing was the way that their transformation created a dramatic change in the space, passing a 17th century physician on the staircase really made you feel like you had gone back in time!

On the third day of the shoot it was my turn.  Early on in the process of selecting the cast for the shoot there was a call for a petite female with dark hair, as I fitted the bill I put myself forward to help.  Little did I know that I would get the chance to dress as a 17th century lady of the manor and wear an incredible dress! I began my day by being strapped into a very small corset and a floor length dress.  I began to realise why ladies had such a need for servants as bending, sitting down and even walking suddenly became very difficult without some help.  Then it was time for the photographs and I really enjoyed chatting to my fellow cast members while trying to ‘look natural’.  The day was a lot of fun even if it was a little chilly and I can’t wait to see the images that come out of it.

Flicker will open on Saturday 23 March and run until October, see Mid Pennine Arts website for details.

Contemporary Heritage: A new way of seeing is an ambitious programme of site-responsive artist commissions at stunning historic sites across Pennine Lancashire.  The commissions, inspired by Pennine 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 centres.

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