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Draw on Halton - Soap

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

Welcome to the first prompt of 'Draw on Halton 2' and we are kicking things off with 'Soap'

Definition of Soap: noun /səʊp/

A substance used with water for washing and cleaning, made of a compound of natural oils or fats with sodium hydroxide or another strong alkali, and typically having perfume and colouring added.

If you are not familiar with the industrial heritage of Halton, 'Soap' might at first appear to be an odd prompt to start with. Without soap, there wouldn't be a 'Hazlehurst Studios', as we are named after the soap manufacturers 'Hazlehurst and Sons', who where based in Runcorn High Street in the 1830's. A fascinating timeline of their manufacturing history can be found here on the Unilever Archive site.

Over on the Widnes side 'Gossages' was the famous manufacturer, before that too was absorbed by Unilever in later years.

The imagery and language used in the heritage soap packaging is a fascinating resource to look back at, although some of the imagery used in the designs are gross examples of racial stereotyping.

The manufacturing of Soap is just one of the industries that families from Widnes and Runcorn pioneered, creating a legacy of heritage for Halton to look back on. The question is how this will now help us look forward as the borough looks to the future.

As we explore our ideas for the expansion of Hazlehurst Studios and the cultural offer in Halton, we want to revisit the journey that led us to Runcorn High Street, and how the location is important to our development. Some of the artists based at Hazlehurst Studios will focus their work, for these prompts, on that thought process. We are very excited to see how everyone else interprets the prompts and what work they create.

Pop over to the 'Draw on Halton 2' blog post to see how you can join in and send your entries our way.

Websites referenced:

(Hazlehurst and Sons - Graces Guide, 2020)

(William Gossage and Sons - Graces Guide, 2020)

(Hazlehurst - Unilever Archives, 2020)

(Photograph of Hazlehurst's Soap Cart - Halton Heritage Partnership, 2020)

(Photograph of Gossage's Steam Wagon - Picture Halton, 2020)

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