‘The Transit of Venus’ by David Henckel


The Transit of Venus was a collaborative project that took its inspiration from the rare astronomical event when the planet Venus passes across the face of the sun. This event was first observed and recorded in the Lancashire village of Much Hoole by Jeremiah Horrocks in 1639. In 1927, an observatory was built in Moor Park, Preston, which was named after the Liverpool-born astronomer, and in 2012, the Transit coincided with the Preston Guild – a festival which takes place once every twenty years – for the first time in history.

The artwork, which reflected on the temporal relationship between the two events, began as a collaboration with Arkwrights, a small craft brewing company based in Preston, to create a real ale to celebrate the Transit. It developed organically through tasting events in the brewery and at Much Hoole, where members of the public recorded their observations on the beer’s appearance, flavour and aroma. The final ale was a strong, hoppy, pale 7.1% traditional English IPA. The project culminated in a tasting event on Winckley Square, as part of the Preston Guild celebrations, and a craft brewing competition at The Continental pub in Preston, where independent brewers submitted beers to sit alongside The Transit. By imposing the Guild’s aesthetics of celebration upon the Transit of Venus event, the artwork considered how local traditions can be instigated. The next time the ale will be brewed will be to celebrate the 2022 Preston Guild.

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