Prototype Projects Round 5

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.

Prototype Projects: Round 4

Work from eleven St Helens artists is set become a reality following the most competitive round of Prototype Projects.

Prototype Projects is an exciting programme of small and ambitious art projects developed by artists and local creative communities across St Helens.

Now in its fourth iteration, the successful applicants to receive Prototype Project commissions for Round 4 include ideas ranging from: a new collaboration between a composer and the St Helens Gospel Choir to produce new work, creating a new exhibition called St Helens Goes Pop! that infuses pop, graffiti, street and digital art to supporting a young ceramicist to receive professional guidance and mentorship. To date we have supported over 35 projects by local artists and communities.

The decision-making panel (which changes each round) included Hannah Longworth, Curator, The World of Glass, Joan Birkett, an artist awarded a R&D Prototype Project from Round 3, Ant Shea (member of the St Helens Community) and Laura Yates, Participation Manager, The Bluecoat, Liverpool (external guest).

With over 15 applications, competition was high and our panel had some very difficult decisions to make. Patrick Fox, Director of Heart of Glass, said: “This was a really strong round of submissions, and the panel had some tough decisions to make. The aim of this commissioning opportunity is to support artists and communities to try something different, to take a risk and potentially open up new opportunities for future working – the commissioned works all respond to that aim and we are excited to support them to fruition”.


Left to right: Artists: Simon Jones, Briony Machin, Rhyannon Parry & Katie Musgrove]

Prototype Projects (Round 4) will be supporting the following projects (below) and we are also delighted announce our Faculty cohort of artists who will be producing a set of projects during this period:

Projectile Vomit: A Portable Art Installation
Michelle Wren & Simon Jones 

Michelle Wren is an artist, activist and set builder from St Helens who will work collaboratively with musician, VJ and multi-sensory artist Simon Jones to produce a new, interactive installation called Projectile Vomit. Exploring CCTV, humour and colour with a political edge, they will use video mapping & projections to create a unique, animated art and musical experience. With a DJ booth embedded within it, it will host musicians, artists and performances, as well as inviting St Helens musicians to showcase what they do, as part of a Heart of Glass art weekend during October/November.

Briony Machin [R&D]
Recently graduated Briony Machin will spend the next six months developing her professional practice as a ceramicist and artist, where she will get mentoring and guidance from experts within the arts & ceramics sector with the support of Heart of Glass. She will also get the opportunity to attend a research trip to a national craft / ceramic event, because she wants to expand her networks and push her work further to establish herself both locally and nationally. View her work here

St Helens Goes Pop!
Drunk Wolf

Digital artist Drunk Wolf will hold his first solo show in The World Of Glass Museum, in the Godfrey Pilkington Gallery from 30th April 2016. Expect spray paint, digital art and a few other things including work by some of the We Art The Response artist group.

The project looks to utilise pop art styles, as well as pop culture to both celebrate St Helens – its people, places and history, touch upon issues affecting the town as well as current affairs. The project came about after approaching the World of Glass with an initial idea and building upon it to construct a show that people of all ages within the town can relate to through the imagery and subject.

Songs of Hope and Joy
ADM Productions & St Helens Gospel Choir

Conductor & Choral Leader, Alexander Douglas and Arts Project Manager, Katie Musgrove from ADM Productions will develop a collaborative pilot choral project with The St Helens Gospel Choir. Over the next several months they will deliver a series of gospel music workshops for both the choir and the people of St Helens, compose new music and work towards a final performance in St Helens Parish Church in October/November.

Another Place
Yellow Door Artists

Yellow Door Artists (Rhyannon Parry and Naoise Johnson Martin) will build and develop an artist exchange between St. Helens’ twin town France, Chalon Sur Saone to open new creative connections overseas. St. Helens has a strong link with the French town stretching back 50 years and the artists want to create new, artistic connections with the aim to establish relationships with various artists and organisations. Embarking on a research visit to France in Autumn 2016, they will document their experiences and conversations through photography, drawing & writing and on their return to produce new artworks, culminating in a joint exhibition in St Helens.

A Maze of Displacement
Claire Weetman

Artist Claire Weetman will research & develop various possibilities surrounding her idea of a maze whose walls are made of people creating emotive gestures with their hands and bodies; whose walls and passageways shift, open and close for people and audiences to explore and experience. Working alongside people, groups and communities who have experience of displacement, she will also work collaboratively with a performer/ dancer/ choreographer who will challenge her artistic approach and bring high quality, performative elements & viewpoints to the artwork.

Ian Driver [R&D]

Sound engineer and music practitioner Ian Driver will research the hidden, underground St. Helens music scene, identifying the musicians and songs of local significance. He will research the different genres of music, find best ways to document their performances and identify if there are young people and/or communities who want to work collaboratively with him to further develop a new archive of local, hidden music.

M62: Trans-Pennine Motorway
Kevin Crooks

Over the next 6 months, artist Kevin Crooks will produce a new series of work (using film and photography) to explore the social and economic impact the motorway has brought to St. Helens and beyond. He will research the various possibilities surrounding the M62 motorway corridor, which will include working collaboratively with people, groups and communities in the vicinity of the motorway, as well as seeking additional funds, developing new partnerships and considering alternative outlets for the presentation of the work, which will include a new publication.

Prototype Projects

Heart of Glass continues to commission an exciting programme of small and ambitious art projects produced by artists and communities in St Helens. By funding these projects, we strive to engage new audiences and embed the arts within our everyday lives.

Prototype Projects (previously known as the Micro Commissions) provides artists and/or communities with an opportunity to test, explore and develop new, innovative ideas. Prototype Projects can involve any art form and can take place in a diverse range of social and community contexts.

In 2014, nineteen diverse projects from artists and communities from across the borough were awarded Prototype Projects for Round 1 and 2. In 2015, nine artists for Round 3 were awarded commissions with ideas that involved bringing the iconic Beecham’s building back to life through a performance & tour, exploring the use of moss graffiti and creating a new glass artwork.

During 2016 a total of 15 projects were awarded commissions. 11 artists were given the opportunity to initiate new projects as part of Round 4 including a new collaboration between a composer and the St Helens Gospel Choir and a new exhibition called St Helens Goes Pop! infusing pop, graffiti, street and digital art. Round 5 recently enabled 7 new commissions including 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.

There will be no further commissioning rounds in 2017.

Heart of Glass continues to provide a range of professional development support and advice for artists based in St Helens. For more information, e-mail


Prototype Projects: Round 3

Nine artists from St Helens are the latest successful applicants to receive Prototype Project commissions from Heart of Glass. Building on St.Helens history of innovation, this opportunity offers artists, communities and creatives from the borough to propose arts projects that are new, unique and experimental.

A total of £7,500 was allocated to support four R&D projects (up to £500) and three Prototype Projects (up to £2,000). The ideas for this round include creating a new glass artwork, exploring the use of moss graffiti and bringing the iconic Beecham’s building back to life through a sound installation & performance, combined with a tour. We have supported 26 projects by local artists and communities to date.

Debbie Chan, Prototype Projects Producer for Heart of Glass, said: “We received commission requests totaling more than £26,000, which meant competition was high and our panel had some very difficult decisions to make.”

The decision-making panel (which changes each round) included: Cath Shea (Arts Development Manager, St Helens Council), Beverly Jones and Gill Mather, successful awardees from Round 1 (The Cowley Singers) and socially engaged artist Jeni McConnell (external guest).

Prototype Projects (Round 3) will be supporting artists working on the following projects:

A Guinea A Box
Ian Greenall

Ian will create a performance installation called A Guinea A Box for Heritage Weekend that will bring the Beecham’s building back to life, through the stories and memories of those who once worked there.

On Saturday 12th September, the doors to the Beecham’s clock tower building opened to the public offering them chance to travel back in time. Visitors encountered sound pieces, video projection and performers recounting the history of the building and early years of the Beecham’s company.

American Style Off-hand Venetian Glassmaking
Sarah Cable

Glass artist Sarah Cable will attend the International Glass Festival & British Glass Biennale in Stourbridge to participate in a glassblowing masterclass led by American glass artist Dante Marioni – a master of Venetian glass making techniques; a style of glass blowing that differs greatly from the English style.

22 Dragons: Furniture Upcycling with Visually Impaired People
Paula & Piotr Pietrzak, Passsoul Studio

Working closely with a group of blind and visually impaired residents from Newton-le-Willows, artists Paula & Piotr Pietrzak will deliver a series of workshops to allow participants to develop self confidence, learn decorative skills and gain an appetite for artistic exploration and experimentation.

Working collaboratively to upcycle various pieces of wooden furniture their talents and abilities will be celebrated as part of an exhibition in St Helens, with the aim to raise awareness of the barriers faced by those with visual impairments. Read more about their project.

This Town is… [R&D]
John Guy & Chris McBirnie

Two emerging local artists, John Guy and Chris McBirnie will examine and challenge the zeitgeist of public opinion towards St Helens high street, as well as examining their perception of public art as an effective tool for change. Based on their research findings, the artists will create and test an artwork, using an empty shop front window in St Helens as it’s canvas, concluding with new ideas for future public art projects.

St Helens, Tokyo, Return [R&D]
Joan Birkett

Artist Joan Birkett will embark on a period of research, where she will document and explore the possibility of collaborative art projects between St Helens, UK and Tokyo, Japan. Due to strong family connections, Japanese art and culture has greatly influenced her art practice and this will be an opportunity to visit Tokyo. Joan will meet face to face with contemporary artists and networks, starting new dialogues and conversations to see what ideas & projects could be developed in the future. Read about her visit here

Eco Graffiti [R&D]
Jack Knowles

Artist Jack Knowles will test and explore the possibilities of using moss as a medium for his art practice. The idea of making living, breathing, eco-friendly graffiti in public spaces across St Helens will be the focus of his research. In July, Heart of Glass sent him to UpFest, Europe’s largest, free, graffiti and street art festival to help inspire and kick start his project. With the support of a mentor, he will develop a better understanding of contemporary dance with the aim to develop a future project that effectively combines eco graffiti with contemporary performance.

I’m Not All There
Lynn Gerrard 

Writer, Lynn Gerrard will write and develop a new script called I’m Not All There based on true stories collected from people with mental illness, including her own experiences. Over the next three months, she will get mentoring and guidance from artist, poet & playwright Louise Wallwein who will offer her professional guidance, advice and support towards improving her script before it is produced and placed before an audience. Lynn’s script will combine comedy and dark humour with the realities of mental health.

For more information about Prototype Projects click here

Prototype Projects: Round 1 and 2

Prototype Projects is an exciting programme of small and ambitious art projects and an opportunity to support ideas and projects developed by artists and the local creative community in St Helens. Projects supported under this strand of work must:

Encourage new people to take part in the arts 

Raise ambition for local artists or creative groups

Develop skills and artistic practice

Demonstrate a clear idea that is feasible and achievable

In advance of each call for proposals we hold three ‘Development Clinics’ in which those interested can explore and develop their ideas with a member of the Heart of Glass team. A commissioning panel made up of two local community representatives, a local arts professional and a national arts professional review submissions and commission a number of successful projects each round. The make up of this panel changes round on round.

Currently we have supported 19 projects (listed below) – keep an eye on the website and social media for individual updates on these projects.


The Loungs

A local band called The Loungs have already achieved some popular success nationally, would like to collaborate with a whole range of different musicians from St Helens. They are hoping to work with local Brass Bands, Choirs and Sinfonietta in the recording of their third album.

Jonathan Parker

A documentation and anecdotal evidence of conversations made on train journeys. Whistleblower will be performed to audiences through choir members at The World of Glass.

The Cowley Singers

The Cowley Singers are hoping to be inspired by The King’s Singers, a cappella vocal ensemble. The Kings Singers will run a local workshop. The Cowley Singers have targeted an increase in new members through the workshop with one of the world’s most celebrated vocal ensembles.

On Reserve | Kevin Crooks

Artist Kevin Crooks is working on a project called On Reserve that will connect with the experiences of Veterans. A trained photography, Kevin plans to connect with local and regional veterans in a unique collaboration that will culminate in an exhibition of work at the World of Glass from 26 September – 13 November 2015. Visit his website.

Vox Voices

Vox Voices are bringing flash mob choir to the streets of St Helens. To keep the element of surprise up their sleeves the group are closely guarding details of their performances, which are set to take place in the town centre this summer.

Art Club of St Helens and Paint Pots Arts Group

The groups’ members will visit the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to see John Moores painting prize before selecting a contemporary painter to run a workshop with them.

Haydock Band

The band are digging into their archives and are commissioning a contemporary musician or composer to make a new piece of work in response to their music. It’s hoped that this is the beginning of a major project with Brass Bands in the town.

UC Crew [R&D]

The Break Dance cultured community group are hoping to add another string to their bow with workshops for hip-hop theatre. The workshops will see an industry leading theatre company come to St Helens.

Angela Wilkinson [R&D]

Commercial photographer Angela, who specialises in producing high quality product and creative still life images, has received support to develop St Helen’s Churches digital photography walks and workshops.


Michelle Wren

Artist Michelle Wren will collaborate with Bradford based filmmaker Jack King on a new film production working with young people from St.Helens. The short film will consider pivotal moments in adolescence, the need for acceptance and the pressure to ‘fit-in’. Upon completion the film will be screened in St.Helens.

Jane Barwood

Artist Jane Barwood will create an innovative immersive public art installation linked to St Helens industrial heritage. Over the course of the work Jane will be examining industrial buildings, past and present, and what they mean in social terms, as well as collaborating with local people to share memories and photos of their personal connections to the town’s industries, bringing a unique artwork to life.

The Beauty Of A Creative Space | Yellow Door Artists
Naoise Johnson-Martin and Rhyannon Parry

The Beauty Of A Creative Space aims to utilise one of the empty shops in the town centre and open it up as a ‘creative space’ for a period of time, inviting local artists to use the space as a studio as part of an artist residency programme, run drop in artist workshops and finish with a big exhibition of all artwork created within the space.

Extemporise | Mark Peel

Musician Mark Peel will stage an improvised music session called Extemporise in a St.Helens Central Library, running over a 5 hour duration. He will be connecting with other musicians to create something truly unique and collaborative. Read more about his experience.

When the Pit Closed… | Alan Smith

2016 marks 25 years since the closure of Sutton Manor Colliery. Photojournalist Alan Smith has produced a series of black & white photographic portraits each with stories charting the life of ten ex-miners called When the Pit Closed… The body of work was exhibited at the World of Glass from 16 January – 18 March 2016 and included a musical score commissioned to reflect the stories and portraits. Visit his website.

Camera Obscura Shed | Lisa Barry

Artist Lisa Barry will create a walk-in Camera Obscura Shed, which has an optical device (a mirror & lens) on it’s roof that records and projects images of it’s surroundings from within. Her aim is to invite members of the public to learn more about the simple principles of photography and allow people to experience the camera obscura .

Hannah Bold

Artist Hannah Bold will create a new work based on the ideas of home working with local St.Helens communities. Through her work Hannah will blend art with philosophical questions and sociological ideas and concepts, with the results displayed in a manner appropriate to the conclusions and ideas discovered throughout the process.

Marina Berg [R&D]

Marina Berg will conduct research with the St.Helens Market Community, exploring how they might collaborate to create new work together. Marina is interested in unique local stories, and ways to capture the unique voice of St.Helens citizens.

Narratives and Meaningful Objects | Nicola A. Bibby [R&D]

Artist Nicola A. Bibby will conduct research related to photography and working within the context of arts and older generations. With a view to capturing portraits of older residents from St Helens, Nicola will invite people to share a memory, a story, or ask them to show her a sentimental object,which has a meaningful attachment to them. Narratives and Meaningful Objects will be exhibited at the World of Glass from Thursday 31st March – Thursday 28th April 2016.

Paula & Piotr Pietrzak [R&D]

Researching ways to develop a furniture design workshop programme with members of the Disability Community.

For more information about Prototype Projects click here.