Guild Projects 2012

This was a programme of four new artworks by artists local to Preston, developed to celebrate the 2012 edition of Preston Guild – a citywide festival which dates back to 1179 and takes place once every 20 years.

Artists: David Henckel, Iain Broadley, Jeni McConnell and Hannah Elizabeth Allan, Lisa Wigham
Locations: Preston City Centre, Preston Railway Station, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Continental Pub, Village Hall (Much Hoole)
Years: 2012
Partners: Preston City Council, Sophie Lancaster Foundation, Arkwright Brewers, The Continental, Virgin Trains, Prof Lubaina Himid
Funders: Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, Arts Council of England

The Black Parade by Iain Broadley

The Black Parade was a participatory art project, which celebrated alternative cultures in and around Preston. This celebration made a statement of intent on behalf of subculture groups; not to be ‘tolerated’ on the outskirts of culture, treated as ‘freaks’ or ‘outsiders’, but accepted as part of a society, in which difference is often treated with contempt.

Throughout August 2012, Broadley worked with young people to develop alternative floats for the community and torchlight processions, as part of the Preston Guild. Produced in collaboration with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which represents people who view themselves as part of an alternative culture, The Black Parade formed part of a wider movement to bring about a change within mainstream society, presenting alternative life choices as the ‘noise in teeth gritting harmony of society’ (Dick Hebdige, The Meaning of Style, Routledge, London, 1979).

The Gates of Paradise by Jeni McConnell and Hannah Allen

The Gates of Paradise was a research project, which connected Preston with other locations around the world. The project centred on the Gates of Paradise, which are housed in the Harris Museum & Art Gallery and are one of eighteen cast copies of the original doors, made for the Baptistery in Florence.

Collaborative Space was a creative partnership led by Jeni McConnell and Hannah Elizabeth Allan. Their project reflected upon the relationship between Preston and Florence, transposing and navigating one space through another, exploring the dialogue of light, sound and sensation between the two locations. An audio piece, using recordings made around the Gates and Duomo Square in Florence, was played once a day during the week of the 2012 Preston Guild. This was accompanied by two live performances, in which the artists evoked the sights, sounds and tastes of Florence within the Harris Museum’s rotunda. Audiences were encouraged to think differently about Preston: to reassess how they understand and negotiate their experiences in the city, and reflect on visiting another place.

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.


The Waiting Room by Lisa Wigham

In this project a temporary installation occupied Preston Railway Station waiting room – a rare, quiet space in the noise and movement of the city, where pause and thought occur before the onward journey. Set against the backdrop of the drama, theatre and romance of the station’s Victorian architecture, fragments of stories evocative of emotions of travel, or glimpses of the past life of the waiting room were made visible on the windows as dissolving sentences.

This historical site was once a canteen and stopping point for servicemen during World War I and II, and a point of respite while passing through Preston to and from leave or service. Its continuing life along a major North-South route prompts in the imagination fleeting stories and transient states of travel.

Lisa Wigham’s installation employed a quietly playful and poetic use of language to present narratives that prompt reminiscence. The words were collected like ephemera, often while in transit, and a novel, Lost Luggage Revival, inspired by the artist’s journeys between Preston and her hometown of Blackpool, accompanied the work. Through use of short instances of text, an essence or reduction of information is presented as fragments, where narratives can be teased from juxtapositions. These golden texts both fathom and mark existence. They were induced into being and collected in moments that punctuated time and disrupted monotony, allowing for association between image, site and memory.

Image credits:
All photos by Denise Swanson


In Certain Places

VB005A, Victoria Building
University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE