Getting To Know You



Residents at two St Helens housing schemes have been sharing gestures and getting to know each other.

This summer artist Sheila Ghelani has worked with the residents of Helena Partnership scheme, Parr Mount Court and Heald Farm Court.

Participants were invited to take part and with a bit of singing, craft and inspiration numbers grew weekly. Neighbours explored the thresholds and boundaries that exist in their communities.

Ghelani is an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, installation, participatory event and moving image. She has been helping the participants create out-of-the-ordinary gestures, creating a stir that reaches out to their community and invites others to step over the thresholds within the scheme.

There has been bunch of flowers, bracelets, photographs and finally 260 tea cups.

Shelia Ghelani, explained: “The project is nearly at an end. The final artistic outcomes are both in production and all that remains is for me to deliver them to participants when they’re ready, in a kind of mass gifting event. I say mass gifting as one of the outcomes will hopefully be a fine bone china teacup which every resident in each housing scheme will receive.”

“The project has been surprising. But all projects are I certainly didn’t expect to be making designs for teacups and I’m sure the residents didn’t either.”

“There have been lots of highlights throughout the project. A particularly enjoyable moment was conducting some home visits – so taking the art to residents in their own homes, those who weren’t able to attend the weekly sessions in the main common room of each scheme.”

“Another highlight was bringing some of the residents of the two housing schemes together in a final mid-morning party. They really enjoyed meeting each other! I’m also hoping the final artworks will be a highlight too.”

“I also loved the assembling and delivering of flowers in the very first session. It caused an exciting stir in both scheme. I also had a great research visit to the St Helens archives, let’s just say there were lots of highlights.

“The final artistic outcomes of the project are a teacup with a pattern on it designed by myself/residents and a set of 3 posters featuring photos of the residents revealing a small piece of info about themselves in front of what can only be described as a kitsch backdrop.

“Each scheme will get a framed set of the images to hang somewhere. Of course, there were lots of other outcomes from week to week – deep conversation over different types of making, gestures of good will and invites sent out to those not present, music, cake, gifts etc.”


Thought provoking acts in Baa Baa Baric

A series of thought provoking acts will take place in St Helens on Thursday, September 28th as part of a long-term artist residency project.

Artist Mark Storor has been leading workshops as part of Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull? a twelve-year undertaking in collaboration with the people of St Helen’s and Heart of Glass.

Storor has partnered with Merseyside Police, St Helens Youth Council, Change Grow Live, St Helens Young Carers, St Helens YMCA, Rainford Technology College and St Peters Primary School.

The project poses the question: Is the most brutal act of barbarism civilisation?

In a radical act of rebellion Baa Baa Baric harnesses the powers of creativity, imagination and possibility, refuting labels and challenging the status quo.

An enactment, a visual manifesto and a fairy tale, Baa Baa Baric Have You Any Pull? is an artwork that recognises the mighty strength of our youngest children to take on the challenges of the world, gives older men in St Helens a voice from beyond the grave and communities a platform to share wisdom and dance to a different tune.

Baa Baa Baric – Thursday, September 28th

Key timings

9am – 10am 

Groups of young people, named The Army of Beauty, will be giving out around 2,500 posies of flowers to people in the town centre.

8am – 7pm (From Thursday to Saturday)

A small shed will be situated on top floor of a car park in a rectangle of earth, through headphones a soundtrack made from recordings of the town will be heard.

12pm – 4pm

Merseyside Police Officers and Cadets will take over a chip shop in St Helens Town Centre for the afternoon to highlight child poverty in the borough.

1.30pm – 2pm

Two mounted police horses with flowers flowing from their manes and tails will lead a precession of young people through St Helens.

2pm – 2.30pm

The Army of Beauty will arrive outside St Helens Town Hall. Significant members of St Helens Council and St Helens Children’s Services will approach the hall and read a legacy statement. One child will hand the statement to the leader of St Helens Council.


Artists and skateboarders create new skateboard park for St Helens

St Helens town centre will have a new public artwork in 2018 – that will take the form of a skateboard park and public space.

Studio Morison, Heather Peak and Ivan Morison have been commissioned to develop the design. The artists, who are leaders in public art and public space, have been researching with St Helens skateboarders and skateboard experts since Spring this year.

As part of the research 40 skateboarders from St Helens travelled with Studio Morison to Stoke Plaza Skate Park and Projects in Manchester and Preston for inspiration.

The project is being lead by a committee that includes Heart of Glass, Merseyside Police, St Helens Council, 51st Skate and the local skateboarding community. Studio Morison are developing workshops with the committee and the skateboarders to ensure the design will be suitable.

The project successfully gained funding from POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act) and Heart of Glass through their Art Council England Creative People and Places fund and CAPP (A Creative Europe funded programme) investments.

Patrick Fox Director of Heart of Glass said:“The popularity of the trip to Stoke with Studio Morison and local skateboarders really showed us the appetite for this project. The passion of Heather and Ivan is matched by the skateboarding community and I think this is a brilliant opportunity to create something special for St Helens. It has been a long time coming for the skateboarders of St Helens to have an area to develop and showcase their skills – as well as a unique and beautiful space. No other town or city will have a park like this – a bespoke public artwork that will elevate the way people experience skateboarding in the town.”

National Portfolio Organisation announcement

Heart of Glass is delighted to announce that we have been offered National Portfolio Organisation regular funding from the Arts Council England.

Building on our work to date since our inception in 2014, our proposal will see us establish Heart of Glass as a national collaborative arts commissioning agency from our base here in St Helens, Merseyside.

Founded in 2014 by an initial investment of £1.5 million from Arts Council England through the Creative People and People scheme, we established as an independent entity in 2016 and continue to be an active member of the Creative People and Places network.

This new funding support will see us build from this base and expand our role as a nationally significant organisation brokering the reciprocal relationship between contemporary arts and modern society, a champion for interdisciplinary, cross art-form and cross-sector collaborative practice, and a powerful and provocative conduit for new ideas.

Our Director Patrick Fox said: “Our on-going mission is to support artists and communities (of place / interest) to collaborate and realise ambitious contemporary artwork that reflects and responds to the politics of our times. We work across context and across art form and through our projects and initiatives we wish to create a space for dialogue, research and experimentation, placing art in direction interaction all areas of life that form society – this work is vital, more so now than ever. People both individually and within communities of place or interest are central to both our thinking and our practice and this funding opportunity and support will allow us to go deeper and wider – we look forward to collaborating.”

Joanna Rowlands, Chair of Heart of Glass, said: “We’re delighted to hear that Heart of Glass has received NPO funding from the Arts Council. It will enable us to become the national agency for collaborative and social arts practice. Proud to be rooted in St Helens, we’ll create ambitious cultural projects where the community are at the heart of the idea and the process.”

The Heart of Glass ethos is rooted in collaborative and social practice and embodies the principle of partnership. Our core value, philosophy and approach is founded on co-production with the community and the active participation of the collaborator, non-artist, audience and viewer, in the creation of meaning. Over the coming years we will continue to produce specialised projects and resources for those who make, watch, research, study, teach, produce, present, write about and archive collaborative and social arts practice.

Eamonn McManus, Chair of St Helens RFC and Chair of the St Helens Economy Board, said: “This Arts Council announcement is an endorser of that ambition and further reinforces St Helens growing reputation for arts and culture activity. As an Economy Board and Ambassadors for St Helens we know how important arts and culture will be and it is great to see such an investment being made in the borough.”All aspects of our work are informed by issues of difference and diversity, and our work is made, of and for St Helens and every community in which we work.”

We will be making further announcements in the coming months, leading up to the commencement of this investment phase in April 2018.

For more information on Heart of Glass, please download A Modest Proposal – our forward strategy and development plan.

Praxis Volume One: Of People, Place and Time, our first publication detailing work to date is also available HERE.

Residency transforms school to provide breathing space for staff

Teachers at a school in Rainford have been taking advantage of a new ‘breathing space’ in the form of an encampment designed and erected by artist Mark Storor with students.

A new communal space for staff at Rainford High Technology College in the borough of St Helens was created by students this week as part of a long term artist residency.

Storor has worked in the school since October 2016 when he was invited to explore and respond to the schools emotional health. After a series of workshops with staff and pupils Storor decided to create a pop-up space specifically for teachers.

The re-vitalised area in the central quadrangle of the school was opened after pupils were invited to work with staff to celebrate the coming together of teachers in a recreational space. A main tent, flanked by other tents, artwork and blankets was used as a place for staff to get a cup of coffee and cake.

Storor has been in St Helens since October 2015 working in various communities through a series of short term bespoke projects.

He said: “Its more than the students creating something for the teachers, it is about creating a communal space for all staff. The young artists I have been working with recognise not only the need for a dedicated communal place, but the absolute value in ‘real’ and symbolic terms of a space to ‘breathe’. A pause for thought, for reflection and permission to take that moment.”

Rory Hughes, Head of Art & Photography at Rainford High Technology College, said: “Having Mark here and working with students and staff has altered the environment of the school. Through the workshops I believe the look, feel and atmosphere of the school has subtly changed.”

“Firstly it’s altered how everyone engages with that particular space. It’s also slightly adapted the way students and teachers have treated the recreational time, in a positive way. It’s good for the students to see teachers socialising together and this open space has made that possible.”

“I think long term subtle changes will feed into our school, this has highlighted to everyone the use of space and how we spend time together. I think as an art project, what has been created through the artist, the students and the staff will bring about positive change.”

Ian Young, Principal of Rainford High Technology College, said: “The work that has been done by students and staff with Mark has allowed a shared experience and sense of identity to emerge across the school. It has raised the community feel good factor across the whole school.”

Mark Storor is an award-winning British artist with a national and international reputation. Working in the space between live art and theatre, he has been described in the British press as “a genuinely visionary theatre maker” and “an alchemist”.  He is currently working on a 12 year residency with Heart of Glass, based in St Helens, Merseyside, titled Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull? A Quiet Revolution, the work is a long term collaboration with the people of St Helens.


Grants for The Arts Clinic

A Grants for The Arts Funding Clinic takes place in St Helens on Wednesday, July 5th.

This session is ideal for artists, creatives, producers, and organisations in the borough.

Grants for the Arts is Arts Council England’s open access funding programme for individuals, art organisations and other people who use the arts in their work. They offer awards from £1000 to £100,000 to support a wide variety of arts-related activities, from dance to visual arts, literature to theatre, music to combined arts.

We will be joined Anna Hassan (Relationship Manager – Engagement & Audience) and Angela Chappell (Relationship Manager – Combined Arts), who will provide information about the scheme and how to apply, offering valuable advice and answering any questions you might have. Information about one-to-one surgery sessions will follow soon.

Click here to book

In My Place returns

After a host of performance in the borough in 2015 we are delighted to be welcoming the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra back to St Helens.

An ensemble will perform specially commissioned shows at homes and workplaces across St Helens.

St Helens residents can apply now until 7 July for the free performances that will take place on 24 and 25 July.

Kat Dempsey, of Heart of Glass, said: “In My Place is a project which creates unique opportunities for people in St Helens to engage with arts and culture on their own doorstep.

“We are delighted to fully roll out the programme with more opportunities for once in a lifetime performances in people’s homes.”

There’s no strings attached, you can apply now for a free performance as long as you’re in St Helens.

You can enter by calling 01744 623290, e-mail with the subject: In My Place or post applications to Heart of Glass, Water Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1PP

To apply please include:

– Your name and address

– Up to 100 words on why you are interested in hosting a performance at your home or workplace.

Artists supported in fifth round of Prototype Projects

Heart of Glass is delighted to be supporting seven new projects through the latest round of Prototype Projects, our commissioning strand that supports artists and communities in St Helens to develop new ideas and creative explorations.

A total of over £4000 was allocated to support one Prototype Project (up to £2000) and five Research & Development (R&D) projects (up to £500). The ideas for this round include commissioning new artwork for a young people’s space in St Helens Central Library alongside professional development support for artists working across a range of disciplines including performance and live art. We have supported over 40 projects by local artists and communities to date.

The decision-making panel (which changes each round) included: Carmel Baines (Community Arts Manager, The Citadel), Ann-Marie Owens (Founder, Pheonix Apparel), Laura Robertson (Co-Founder and Editor of The Double Negative magazine) and Rhyannon Parry (artist and previous Prototype Project award recipient).

Prototype Projects (Round 5) will be supporting artists working on the following projects:

Wendy Mumford (R&D)

Wendy Mumford will spend the next six months developing her professional practice as a textile artist and her recently established collaboration with St Helens based agencies who support people experiencing mental health difficulties. To support this Wendy will benefit from mentoring, networking and research opportunities.

Cath Shea (R&D)

Artist Cath Shea will work closely with London based writer and performance artist Ursula Martinez to explore the potential of a longer-term collaboration to transform a series of monologues created for alter-ego Kitty O’Shea into a live art piece.

Mike Lindley (R&D)

Mike Lindley will focus on developing his fledgling practice as an artist and performer inspired by his ongoing collaboration with artist Mark Storor as part of the Heart
of Glass commission Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull?. Using a portrait of himself created with Storor as a starting point, Mike will develop a live performance as well as ideas for new participatory work exploring notions of regret.

Jacqui Priestley (R&D)

Jacqui Priestley will spend the next six months accessing research, workshop and networking opportunities that will enable her to develop her artistic practice, specifically in relation to socially engaged arts practice and an investigation of memory and lost narratives through collaboration with dementia sufferers.

Fiona Sterling & Amy Russell (R&D)

Artists Fiona Sterling and Amy Russell will undertake
a period of research and development to explore the position of women with children in the workplace and the contemporary art world. To support this they will receive mentoring from one or more female artists / curators / producers whose practices address similar ideas.


Reading Hack

Reading Hack, a group of young volunteers aged 13 to 24 years based at St Helens Library, will work closely with Heart of Glass to commission, and work in collaboration with, an artist to create a clearly identifiable, animated and engaging space within the Library for young people to use.


Second conference focuses on key topics

More than 100 people came to St Helens in May for second With For About conference held by Heart of Glass and AxisWeb.

The conference, titled With For About: Art, Activism & Community, took place at Friends Meeting House 16 invited speakers leading the discussion.

The audience joined them to explore three conversations on the fierce and urgent questions facing collaborative and social art today. Beyond the Rhetoric, On Collaboration and Solidarity and Action were all topics for the day with guests travelling from across Europe to attend.

Patrick Fox, Director of Heart of Glass, explained: “Using a series of statements as provocations by leading thinkers in the field, we explored collaboration, language and our role as artists, producers and commissioners in an ever-changing socio-political landscape.”

“Our programme is rooted in collaborative and social practice and embodies the principle of partnership. Our core value, philosophy and approach is founded on co-production with the community and the active participation of the collaborator, non-artist, audience and viewer, in the creation of great art. People both individually and within communities of place or interest, are central to both our thinking and our practice.”

“We partnered with Chrissie Tiller, idle women and Axisweb to produce the even and feel moments like this are an important part of our ongoing work, creating a space for debate and reflection, a critical space in which to examine our work, and the work of others internationally with a view to professionally developing our practice.”