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13 On Now

A Historic Mural in St Helens

9th May 2022
Short Read

Heart of Glass have produced a series of murals from Parr to St Helens town centre, in collaboration with several artists and community groups. It’s been an exciting time of bringing colour to the shops, houses, roundabouts and streets we walk along every day, but this isn’t the first time murals have been made collaboratively in St Helens.

On the grapevine we heard about a mural over at Park Farm Community Centre. A huge painting, which can be seen from the street, has been weathered by time. The team at Park Farm Community Centre have completed initial consultation to paint something new over the existing mural, designed with people local to the centre. They’re currently working to raise funds to complete this new project.

Before it’s gone, we wanted to find out how this mural came to be. Past the peeling paint, an observant visitor can read “HELEN McDONALD Community Arts St Helens & Young People” across the front of the mural, but where are they now? And why does the painted scene include Saints rugby players alongside American baseball players?

Ste Littler, who worked at Park Farm (previously known as Carr Mill community centre), remembers the mural being painted in the 1990’s. He says that Janet Braun-Reinitz and artist Helen McDonald worked with the local people to design and paint the mural. Janet Braun-Reinitz is a famous American mural artist, part of the Freedom Rider movement, who has painted murals across the world. Though we’ve tried to get in touch with her, from old online articles to Instagram collectives, every trail has gone cold. Helen McDonald, is unfortunately even harder to track down, with a name that we can’t be sure has stayed the same thirty years later.

Though the stories of St Helens don’t always make it into the history books, the people who live and work here don’t forget a thing. Do you remember this mural being painted? Get in touch and help us uncover the legacy of murals in St Helens.