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Saturday June 9th 2018 – hundreds of people visited the Flag Market in Preston to watch, take part or simply have fun during Making A Mark 2018. Months in the planning, the event featured over 20 different Preston-based artists, performers, musicians and creatives, all keen to make their mark and more importantly, to share their skills with others enabling them to do so too.
From street theatre to samba drumming, large-scale art and chalk installations to paper-based collage making, knitting and weaving to painting and pastel drawing, there really was something for everyone – any everyone seemed to be having a great time.
The event kicked off with a procession led by Worldwise Samba Drummers, of Lubaina Himid’s big red cart as it was pulled from Latham Street near Avenham Park right through the centre of town, packed with shoppers on a busy Saturday lunchtime, up Fishergate, along Cheapside before finally taking up position centre-stage on the Flag Market – a fitting encore to Lubaina’s recent Hard Times exhibition at the Harris which ended the week before. The smaller wooden cart stayed in the Harris foyer all week as a collection point for the donated tins of food for Tim Saunders’ large scale installation.
Tim, aka Timsperspectiveart, was on site from 3am building his enormous installation depicting the increased use of food banks in Preston since 2012. Hundreds of tins had been donated in advance and many people brought more along during the event. By the time Tim packed up all the tins to go to the food bank at 4pm, over 2000 tins had been donated providing about 6 months supply – amazing! A fitting end to the day, this food bank is run by the Methodist church of which our former landlord at Oxheys Mill, Honorary Alderman Albert Richardson was a staunch supporter.
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Gordon Ashworth spent most of the day on his knees creating large scale chalk paintings on the flagstones. This activity took on a life of its own when so many, adults and children alike, picked up chalks and had a go themselves. The range of patterns, drawings and designs that were created is astonishing and certainly livened up the Flag Market. Many were still there the following day.
An official Knit In Public day event, Caroline Finnigan led the Knitting Circle alongside her own Fleece To Fibre event, showing interested visitors how to weave, spin and work with wool direct from the fleece. Using some yarn she prepared earlier with natural dies from locally grown wild flowers, a beautiful woven quilt was created with individual squares woven by visitors.
Robin Fanner made his presence felt by baking a delicious selection of cakes, suitable for any diet, all superbly decorated with the design from Tim’s food bank art installation. The cakes were placed in Lubaina’s big red cart and given away to those who donated tins of food for the installation, by Evelyn Rose in between hosting the pop-up exhibition inside the Harris.
Denise Swanson spent the day photographing all of the various activities and participants, from the initial set-up on the flag market, the exhibition hanging on the 2nd floor of the Harris, the cart procession from Latham St and all of the activities on the Flag Market. Some of those photos can be seen here, many others are also available with prints or copies on request.
Easel-based artists included painter Chris Davis from Alison, Kyra from the Harris, illustrator Gavin Renshaw and pastel artist Les Darwell, each enjoying not just making their own work expressing the vibrancy of the event but happily showing interested, and slightly bemused onlookers, how to get started and be creative. So many visitors said they had never had an opportunity to be creative before and that this was a real inspiration for them.
Preston Youth Theatre created an added dimension as they interacted with visitors, performing their interpretation of the Preston lockout with one group of mill owners chastising a bunch of street urchins and paupers. Tin Can People dressed in full wedding regalia mixed with visitors asking them for lists of items to include in the ‘royal wedding speech’.
Winston Plowes aka Spoke n Word, gained quite a impact riding around on his bike and asking participants to help him create poems by selecting words from the spokes in his wheel (geddit?) whilst Jack Bamber spent the afternoon building a pirate ship, as you do, with assistance from visitors.
The musicians really took things up a level, adding to the atmosphere which was already buzzing – kicking off with Worldwise Samba drummers, followed by Carcophony Arkestra, Harvey Brittain and others from Preston Jazz Festival. Chelytherium was creating soundscapes from the sounds going on in the surrounding area and encouraging visitors to take part and have a go at creating their own.
Inside the Harris Museum, the Oxheys pop-up exhibition featuring artworks from several local artists was on the 2nd floor, watched over by Evelyn whilst Bernie Velvick led a group of drawing artists around the collections drawing what they saw. In the Makerspace Becky Atherton and Des Butler were each running paper-based activities which then moved outside onto the Flag Market to enjoy the hot and sunny day. Becky created Mismatched Creatures with intrigued visitors whilst Des created large collages helped by many of those who passed by.
By the end of the day, the participants were exhausted but all agreed it had been thoroughly enjoyable and a lot of fun. Lets hope we get asked back to do another event!
Making A Mark 2018 would not have been possible without the support from Preston City Council and the Arts Council Heritage Lottery fund and the Harris Museum & Art Gallery. We are also grateful to the Ham & Jam coffee shop for sponsorship, to Lubaina Himid for her never-ending support, to all of the artists and performers and to every one of the participants. We really could not have done it without you.
Shown in this post are just a few of the many photos taken during the day by Denise Swanson. Many more are available and some will follow.