Preston expresses its heART!


I read the Tweetup Preston minutes online yesterday and it made my heart twang.

Knowing there are others in the city with a creative heart but little encouragement rang all too familiar bells. R.I.P. my lovely, ceramics gallery Guapa 1991-1996!

A number of discussions took place from defining art to the failure of our city’s public art installations.

The thing is we’re not Barcelona……..And we’re not Manchester…….we’re not even Lancaster !

We haven’t yet built that creative environment where art is accessible and so commonplace you almost fail to see it. We let our artists leave, we have no creative retention…..where IS Andy Goldsworthy? Where is Lara Aldridge?

Preston is a Proud City, I sometimes think that its ‘strapline’ could not be better but with pride sometimes comes a reluctance for change, a fear of the new and possibly too much reliance upon the better the devil you know comfort zone. And art isn’t about being in your comfort zone. Art is challenging and beautiful, gawdy, rude, quaint, jolly and obscene. Added to this, art is often BL**DY expensive AND exclusive!

Tweetup noted that Preston’s own public art was not seen as a success.

Brook Street Sculpture

Brook Street Sculpture 2

While this smaller piece at the junction of Brook Street and Aqueduct Street is beautifully crafted, who made it? What does it represent? No explanation that I could find!

Lune Street Sculpture

Lune Street Sculpture 2

And this, at the bottom of Lune Street, is the commemorative sculpture to four (yes four) workers who died. They were shot fighting for democracy in 1842 during the general strike.

Friargate Sculptures

While this, Landscape with Trees,  was paid for by the EU and has a credit to the artist, Claire Bigger. Is the title ironic?

As the phrase goes, I appreciate the technical merit of each piece, I just don’t like any of them! And maybe that’s the final root of the perceived ‘failure’ of Preston’s public art. All art is subjective – surely? And if Prestonians don’t like it, then it’s our right….but that’s not to say….OK you’ve had a go but enough’s enough! Bring it on!!

In the meantime if we are to genuinely get a creative following locally, then we need more exposure and better PR! It’s the summer holidays, we need people throwing pots in the market square – raku kilns aplenty, live music daily, films projected onto buildings every week throughout the summer, our own promenade season in the park, not just something once every Preston Guild. Of course how we pay for it throws up an entirely different debate!

Keep up the good work tweetuppers!

PS If we are commissioning any more for the next Guild I vote for something subtle, gentle and peaceful like  an Andy Goldsworthy cairn at the top of Fishergate!


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