Tag Archives: Pennine Lancashire

Weaving a Way Back to Ethel (via the Rebel Pen Club)

The latest turn in our collective exploration of the great Ethel Carnie takes MPA and Pendle Radicals into uncharted territory.  We embark on that rare thing – a collaborative doctorate, with MPA as the non-academic partner – and we welcome the new PhD candidate who was awarded the opportunity.  Jenny Harper introduces herself and the personal history that ties her to the mill working milieu that Ethel writes so powerfully about in the latest Pendle Radicals blog.


My grandfather Neville Hartley worked all his life in the Jimmy Nelson Cotton Mill in the town of Nelson, starting in 1930 at 14 as a half-timer, and taking early retirement at the age of 62. Apart from occasional holidays, his only real break from the mill came when he served in the Manchester Regiment during WW2 (pictured). He saw huge changes in that time.

Click HERE to visit the Rebel Pen Club page to read the rest of Jenny’s blog.


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!

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…

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.

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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.

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.