14 On Now

Your Name Here

14th May 20th Sep 2015

In May 2015 a three metre neon sign of the words 'your name here' was placed over St Helens Town Hall signalling the launch of an ambitious new public art project in the borough commissioned by Heart of Glass.

Project Details
Categories
  • Place
Creative Team
  • Artist: Joshua Sofaer
  • Competition Winner: Vera Bowes
  • Judge: Johnny Vegas
  • Judge: James Roby
  • Judge: Andy Reid

#YourNameHere

Your Name Here was a six month project with artist Joshua Sofaer, in collaboration with Heart of Glass and St Helens Council, inviting people to nominate a person with a strong link to St Helens who's name should be used to rename Lyons Yard, Ravenhead Greenway Park.

To launch the project a large neon sign reading 'your name here' was placed over the doors to St Helen's Town Hall for six weeks, signifying the opportunity to rename a civic space in the town.

Text reading 'your name here' on a black background. The text is light blue with a blue glow surrounding it.

Your Name Here is a project conceived by artist Joshua Sofaer who encouraged the people of St Helens to get involved in an interactive public art competition.

The project called on people to nominate a person they felt had a strong connection to the town, telling us their name and why they should be chosen as the new name for the park. Nominators were asked to share a story, drawing, painting, video, photo, sound recording, or even an object. The named person needed to have a strong connection with St Helens, whether historic or more recent and could be a friend, family member or local hero.

In daylight a large billboard stands at the side of a road. The billboard stands above a brick and metal fence. Behind it are some trees and the top of a large building with many windows. The billboard includes a grey background with pink text which reads 'Who would you name a park after?' as well as an illustrated sign which reads 'Your Name Here'
In evening light a large stone building with a clocktower spans the width of the image. The building has a large paved area in front of it with small trees, benches and a phone box. The building has a large wooden door at the top of some stone steps. Above the door is a blue neon sign.

Artist Joshua Sofaer, said: “The aim of Your Name Here is to get people talking about who is important to the people of St Helens. I want to help celebrate the residents of St Helens in an extraordinary way exploring the themes of citizenship, history, family and civic pride. I hope it gets conversation going about who our role models are within the community and thinking creatively about the people in their lives.”

Director of Heart of Glass, Patrick Fox, added: ”We're really delighted to be working with artist Joshua Sofaer and St Helens Council on Your Name Here which we hope will capture the imagination of the people of St Helens over the coming weeks and months.

“The Heart of Glass commissioning philosophy is very much about creating ambitious collaborative and participatory art projects that question the world we inhabit and create new spaces for debate and exploration. Joshua shares this commitment and so we are delighted to be working with him to realise this ambitious project that will literally change the landscape of St.Helens! We're looking forward to seeing the many and varied responses that come through.”

St Helens Council Leader, Councillor Barrie Grunewald, said: “St Helens is already home to many gifted artists in various forms and this competition is a great opportunity to further increase arts participation in the borough. I would encourage people to take part and share their talents with the residents of St. Helens.”

In daylight a large sign stands against a light blue sky with clouds and a line of tree tops underneath. The sign is partially covered by a large red, shiny bow. At the top of the sign you can see a crest and the words 'St Helens Council'.
An empty park, with large areas of grass bordered by areas of bark and bare autumn trees. A tarmac path runs through the middle of the park.
Two people, one older woman and one man, stand with their arms linked in front of a large sign. The sign has a crest at the top and reads 'St Helens Council. Vera Page Park' in large letters.
Your Name Here, 2015. All Image Credits: Stephen King

Throughout the nomination period, public workshops were held by artists in community centers, housing schemes, and parks, where members of the public took part in activities which helped them build their submissions. Your Name Here attracted more than 500 submissions telling the stories of celebrities, forgotten historical figures and everyday heroes.

A judging panel, including well known St Heleners James Roby, Andy Reid and Johnny Vegas, then reviewed the nominations and selected the winner in late summer.

The grand prize saw Ravenhead Greenway Park permanently renamed as Ver Page Park after the competition winner on September 5th 2015, with Vera's name becoming part of the town’s fabric, maps and park signage.

The park is named after Vera Bowes, from Fingerpost, who during one of the campaign's workshops nominated herself as a child, using her original name of Vera Page. Vera's emotional story of trauma and recovery inspired the judges to chose her name as "they wanted the park to stand for people. The idea of abandoned children, for us all, we think about the person we were when we were a child, especially those who have suffered and had an unhappy childhood."

Joshua Sofaer

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