High school students help Preston artist with piece of history for Harris Museum

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Gavin Renshaw has created a brand new mural: ‘The links in the chain are evenly matched’ with the help of Year 9 students from Penwortham Priory Academy and Christ the King Catholic High School.

Comprised of 10 8-foot-by-4-foot palisade panels, the mural will feature linear artwork with a narrative focused on movement throughout a workday, processes in the factory, and moving people around. overseas to the UK.

It was created to decorate the picket fences at the front of the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library while construction work begins for the Harris Your Place project. To commemorate the history of textile manufacturing in the Preston area, the artwork celebrates the journeys that Courtaulds Ltd employees have made, drawing attention to the diversity of the workforce that has come together and continues to contribute to Preston’s rich textile heritage. create works of art to be incorporated into the planning stages of development.

Preston artist Gavin Renshaw with his painting: ‘The links in the chain are of equal strength’ which will be on display at the Harris Museum

Local industrial heritage is at the center of the mural, which features a collage of images including portraits of former employees who worked at the Courtaulds Ltd factory in Preston.

Opened in 1939, the factory quickly became one of Preston’s biggest employers at the time.

Beginning with a series of oral history recordings from former Courtaulds Ltd employees, students explored their own connections to themes of migration and textile heritage, thinking about what it might have been like to work in textile factories in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

They explored the factory’s history and processes through drawing, collage and ink mark making. Following these first workshops in March 2022, artist Gavin Renshaw further developed the poignant messages the students identified in their works.

Gavin works hard to paint ‘The links in the chain are of equal strength’

Councilor Peter Kelly, a member of Preston City Council’s Arts and Culture Cabinet, said: ‘We are delighted to support Preston artist Gavin Renshaw and the two local schools responsible for the design and creation of this beautiful work of art which will be displayed outside the iconic Harris building.

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“An integral part of Preston’s industrial history is being captured and revitalized by a new generation.”

Alice Hellard, Head of Heritage and Learning at The Courtauld, added: “The students involved in the project responded to the brief brilliantly, making some thoughtful observations about the research material and developing a clear set of themes. that Gavin can work on.

Two Preston students create a collage in the planning stages of ‘The links in the chain are of equal strength’

“When they visited him again during the painting process, they were thrilled to see how he put their ideas into the piece and provided really insightful feedback.” This project is part of the ongoing collaboration between the library Harris, the Museum and Art Gallery and The Courtauld.

Since 2018, the two parties have worked together under the Courtauld National Partners program, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The mural will be unveiled on Tuesday 13 September at 4pm at an event celebrating Preston’s textile heritage through local contemporary artwork.

A collage image taken during one of the first school workshops that inspired “The links in the chain are of equal strength”
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