Tag Archives: Padiham Greenway

Burnley at the Heart of Europe

It may not be very fashionable to be a ‘good European’ at the moment but Burnley is certainly playing its part in Europe.

The Council of Europe, a body of 47 nation states (not to be confused with the European Union), has awarded Burnley ‘le Diplôme européen’. The award has been made for its work in improving relationships between the people of Burnley and other European countries, in particular the people of its twin town, Vitry-sur-Seine, close to Paris. Indeed it was the only town in the UK to receive the award. Only 12 were offered to towns from 47 countries across Europe.

It was great too, to see that a part of the application was arts based, and related to Mid Pennine Arts!   It was possible to go back and highlight Nick Hunt’s well received presentation on the Singing Ringing Tree and the Panopticons to a huge cross-section of arts organisations from across Europe, South America and the United States at the opening of a new gallery for contemporary art from the whole of France, the Mac Val, in the Val de Marne department of northern France.

Included too was the award from the European Greenways Association (EGA) in Nancy, northern France, received at the award ceremony by Helen Yates. If you remember, the award was for MPA’s work supporting the transformation of a disused railway line into a greenway for local people in Padiham: walkers and cyclists. Mercedes Munoz, Director of EGA said: “…by removing barriers to everyday walking and cycling, greenways bring communities closer together.”

Mention was made of a visit by arts workers in Spain to Burnley’s Youth Theatre. The visit, organised by Arts Council England, offered presentations (from Nick for MPA and from Curious Minds) on Burnley’s commitment to public art, arts in the community and arts education in schools.

Of course the bid covered the work of Burnley’s Twinning Association: organising ramblers visits to and from France, 20 weeks of French lessons for its members, and welcoming 31 guests from Vitry into the homes of local people in April this year.

The Council too, has also contributed in hosting study visits over the last five years from groups of social workers, voluntary associations and students from Germany, France, and Norway. At the same time officers from the Council have actively participated in conferences and award ceremonies in Berlin, Slovenia, Gerona, Bilbao and Vilnius in Lithuania..

…and there is a huge amount going on in our schools!

Well; the European Diploma was collected on behalf of Burnley Council at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg by an honorary MPA staff member… David Smith!

Burnley (Lancashire) - Axel E. FISCHER Germany, Jean-Claude Frécon,  President of the Congress of the Council of Europe Burnley (Lancashire) - Axel E. FISCHER, Allemagne, Jean-Claude Frécon,  Président du Congrès du Conseil de l’Europe

I Blame Bradley Wiggins

Mid Pennine Art’s Creative Director, Nick Hunt, reflects on the recurring intersections of art and two-wheeled sport that lured him into signing up to a distinctly foolhardy challenge.

I blame Bradley. None of this would have happened without him or all that extraordinary stuff that happened through the summer of 2012. An Englishman winning the world’s greatest bike race, the Tour de France. Unheard of. And not any old lycra robot, but a proper laconic, old-style, neo-mod antihero. Allez Wiggo.

And then the London Olympics, and the Cultural Olympiad, and all the extraordinary, euphoric moments of home-team success, all wrapped up in the discovery that London could be a place of collective joy where Tube passengers smiled at each other and mounted police high-fived spectators in the enormous, teeming crowds. And Wiggo blitzing the Olympic Time Trial was one of those amazing moments and surely life would never be so uncomplicatedly sweet again.

But then we heard that the 2014 Tour would come to the Yorkshire Pennines. And the rains stayed away, and the world saw the Pennines and the Dales at their best, and two million people came out to welcome Le Grand Depart and it was another once-only, euphoric experience. Not just that, but we were able to commission one of Pakistan’s most celebrated contemporary artists, although hugely in demand across the international art world, to come to a reservoir near Ripponden and create his first work in landscape.

Imran Qureshi

Imran Qureshi

A hair-raisingly close call, but it worked out in the end, after which we were able to immerse Imran Qureshi and ourselves in the weekend of the Tour, with a ceremonial start at Harewood House, a rickety two-seater giving the artist a few aerial shots of his work, and then Stage Two coming right past the site. And the small-boy feeling of lying in a meadow for hours to catch a few fuzzy

Tour de France

Tour de France

shots of the world’s best cyclists as the peloton whizzed past Baitings Reservoir…

I blame, too, the Landmarks project, and the partners in Bowland Revealed who made it happen… As memories of Le Tour 2014 started to fade, my working life took on the onerous necessity of regular trips out into the Forest of Bowland AONB to meet artists, make site visits, progress check installations. It’s a tough job. I knew it was there, of course, Bowland, lurking somewhere the other side of Pendle Hill, but I kind of took it for granted. I had sort of overlooked that, north of Clitheroe, you soon slip into another, slower, pre-industrial, magical world of breathtaking beauty. Professor Tolkein’s Middle Earth. And if you approach stealthily, you get close to some peculiar fauna. Mamils, everywhere. Hordes of them. Many of quite mature years, like me. All putting in the miles while enjoying a particularly intimate engagement with that fabulous landscape. And I started to envy that connection, the breeze in your nostrils, the sun on your cheeks. And I started to think, if those often somewhat podgy seniors can do it, why not me?

So Landmarks was a great project for us, but it cost me. To be precise, £650 of new-to-me carbon-framed hardware. And then I just needed a little extra motivation to get me out on it.

MPA’s work has always celebrated our landscapes, and so over the years, it has found recurring connections with cycling, and cycle routes… The Padiham Greenway engagement programme, introducing 7,000 people to their new cycle route. Valley of Stone, commissioning sculptures for the lunar landscape of Lee Quarry’s extreme cycling trails. And this year we will renew those connections, as we pilot a programme of creative interventions for a new, countywide programme of strategic cycleways developments.

But meanwhile… Coming up fast is MPA’s fiftieth anniversary, in 2016. We want to make the most of this landmark date, and need to raise extra funds to do so. We want to celebrate MPA’s work in a way that looks forward more than back. And how better than to promote a new opportunity for Lancashire’s next generation of artists? A competition award, yes, but one that comes with a real commission, to create something substantial in one of Lancashire’s special places… And we want to name it after the feminist writer and activist who inspired the founding of MPA back in 1966, Doris Nield Chew. Our award/commission will be The Doris.

As a committed member of the APPL organisations Catalyst group, we are especially conscious at present of the need to encourage individual giving, and to crack the challenge of crowdfunding. So I started to think about what sort of individual challenge I could take on to help make The Doris happen.

And at the creaky old age of 63, I have found one to stretch my ligaments to snapping point. But irresistible because it climaxes in Paris. Three days in early September, London to Paris, around 80 miles a day. Arriving under the Eiffel, channeling a little bit of Wiggo 2012 of course.

That’s the plan. Between now and then I just have to get on the bike, become a real rather than fantasy cyclist, put in the hard miles and toughen up all round. Simple.

Image - Nick - ride your bike to work day - Sep 2014

If you would like to add your encouragement, as I put myself through all that pain in support of Lancashire culture, you can contribute at:

Just Giving

You can be sure that I, Mid Pennine Arts and the future recipients of The Doris will all be very grateful.

Nick Hunt

When did you last go to Cleveleys?

I’ve not been to Cleveleys since I was I was seven.  Sixty years later I had this illogical urge to eat fish and chips on the sea front.  On a cold sunny morning I arrived on the promenade.   It is new, all of it!  Part of an improved sea defence scheme to prevent the town being flooded.  It is magnificent; not just a pile of concrete but an art inspired design called The Wave.  It literally flows along the sea shore and you can imagine in a storm how the water will swirl and be channeled back into the sea.

June 14 blog - image 5

Search for seashells and you will find Mary’s Shell standing on the shore.  It’s a four metre high sculpture designed by Stephen Broadbent.  Children were climbing on it, sliding down it , hiding within it and dancing around it.

June 14 blog - image 4

On the same sandy beach they raced over to touch the Sea Ogre standing in silvery sea foam: 12 tonnes of polished and unpolished limestone carved by Adrian Wright.

June 14 blog - image 8And what else?  Explore the Sea Swallows – aluminiumJune 14 blog - image 7 beacons standing high above the promenade or our dear friend John Merrill’s nine metre long wooden Paddle. You will remember John, who has worked closely with Mid Pennine Arts, for his White Lightning on the Padiham Greenway.

The inspirational thread for this artwork is an illustrated children’s story: The Sea Swallow by Gareth Thompson, illustrated by Hannah Megee.  I remember poring over a copy brought into the Office by Steph Hawke.  It had originated in the Lancaster Literature Festival.  It too is worth a look.

And the fish and chips? ….try ‘Kay’s Fish and Chips’ just opposite the promenade.


Cleveley’s Sea Defence and Promenade Scheme – Wyre Borough Council

Mythic Coast Artwork Trail – Visit Lancashire

Photographs courtesy of Aran Smithson (Evoke Photographic) & Alan Cookson


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 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.


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!