St Helens community unveils two murals by internationally renowned street artists
Internationally-acclaimed street artist duo Nomad Clan and residents in Parr, St Helens have unveiled two murals inspired by the area’s rich history and the “unshakeable” community bonds they discovered there.
Titled Follow the Light and Keep Going Keep Growing, the murals were commissioned and produced by local arts organisation Heart of Glass, in partnership with Torus Foundation and is funded by Arts Council England as part of the Creative People and Places programme.
The murals are situated across the road from Derbyshire Hill Family Centre, on the opposing walls of Wiseman’s (aka Wisesy’s) newsagents and Barbara's Hairdressers, together they represent St Helens past, present and future.
Filmic and dreamlike, one mural depicts an illuminated lantern, a nod to the area’s industrial heritage, with moths all around. Opposite, a second mural depicts the head of a young person surrounded by a cloud of colourful motifs.
Nomad Clan said: “We wanted to share a sense of how the bonds that we have with our ancestors shape our futures today, and the idea that we have to look into the past to understand where we have come from.
"We think it's important that places like Parr hold these stories and histories and look forward. By illuminating the magical parts of Parr, which are often overlooked, we wanted to create a sense of wonderment for residents and surrounding areas of St Helens."
Angharad Williams, Head of Programme, Heart of Glass said: “We’ve been humbled by the response from the community so far. So many people have told us what it means to see their stories told in such a beautiful piece of public art.
"Nomad Clan have done an incredible job of interpreting the community’s ideas. We’re excited to see how the story continues to unfold as we develop more art projects with the people of Parr over the coming months.”
The designs of the project were developed through workshops with local residents led by Nomad Clan and Heart of Glass artist-in-residence, Michelle Wren, with support from Heart of Glass and Torus Foundation.
St Helens-born artist Michelle has spent the past months meeting local groups and residents and listening to their experiences, memories and hopes for the area and will be continuing to develop more work in Parr with Heart of Glass.
Local resident and Chair of the Sexton Park Community Allotment Paul Llewellyn said: “We’re very proud of our history and these murals capture it and offer a fresh creative perspective for the young people coming through - which is about exploring your mind and reaching your potential.”
Helen Cibinda Ntale, Head of Health and Wellbeing, Torus Foundation says: “As well helping to fund such an amazing project, it’s been a pleasure to help bring together ideas and showcase the Parr community. It’s incredible to see how the artists have taken on board ideas and stories from the community workshops that we were delighted to be part of.
“Developing relationships with key local partners like Heart of Glass is an important part of how we’re delivering our vision of stronger communities and the project fits perfectly into a wider programme of work that the Foundation is undertaking to improve liveability in Torus neighbourhoods.
"Through Nomad Clan’s final concept, the murals will be a great opportunity to celebrate the sense of pride in place that’s felt across Parr and our Torus neighbourhoods.”