Read the overview of how this project has developed over on the blog post - Introduction to Runcorn Street Art Stories.
Now it is time to test the stories and the overall concept of the project with people beyond the steering board, trying to reach a broad spectrum of the public. At this point, the booklet was still in the development stage as we wanted to gather more feedback from the stories before committing to the final themes in the booklet. So, the version in the previous blog post is more developed than the one used during the following public engagement sessions. We appreciate the generous feedback we received in these sessions.
The College Sessions
Riverside College generously allowed us access to three sessions with their Textiles, Fine Art, and Graphic Students, led by Rachael Prime and Millie Chesters. The students created diverse responses, drawing inspiration from a combination of the stories and the illustrations.
The workshops took the form of 1-minute, 5-minute, and 20-minute sketches, producing a prolific amount of work, after a brief introduction to the project and the booklet.
- Textiles Class on June 12th: Generated 120 images
- Art Class on June 19th: Generated 69 images
- Graphic Class on June 26th: Generated 100 images
Overall, 65 young people were engaged, with 289 images generated. The artwork will be collated into a hand bound booklet, some for exhibition, and to inspire the final brief for street art mural.
Studio Artist Lauren Quayle attended the final session to capture some of the students in action, which you can see below.
The Print Sessions
During Halton Heritage Open Days in September, we hosted three separate practical hands-on sessions, allowing people to play with the ideas and be inspired to create their own responses.
The participants were introduced to the project and the stories that have inspired the booklet and illustrations so far. They were then invited to have a go at mono printing, with the task of creating mono prints around the stories that intrigued them the most.
What is Mono Printing?
Mono printing is an engaging art technique where ink or paint is applied to a smooth surface, such as a plate, and then transferred onto a sheet of paper, creating a unique print. What sets mono prints apart is their individuality—each print is distinct from the others. This gave the artists and participants the opportunity to discuss stories, the project, and techniques.
Onto the Print Press
Once the participants had mastered monoprinting, it was time to introduce them to the print press, with some pre-carved Lino cuts, each representing a story. Again, the participants were asked to think about what story they responded to the most as they learned to ink up a lino.
What is a Linocut?
A linocut plate is a printmaking tool used in the linocut technique. It involves carving a design into a sheet of linoleum, which is a soft rubber-like material mounted on a block or backing. The areas that are carved away do not receive ink, while the raised areas that remain after carving make up the printing surface. Once the plate is carved, ink is applied to the surface, and then a piece of paper is pressed onto the plate to transfer the ink and create the final print. In our case, we allowed the participants to run theirs through our A1 print press.
Prior to the session, Toni created a map of the area in which the stories were based, and then Rachael and Toni hand-carved out stamps that represented each story. At the end of each printing session, participants were invited to stamp on the map their favorite story. So that we could start to visually see which stories people were responding to. It will be interesting to see how this changes as more people become aware of the project and populate the survey with their own favourites.
During this ‘Hands On’ part of the project, 192 different images were created, that’s not including the ones that people took home, and these will also be available to view alongside the images created by the Riverside College Students.
The Walk and Talk Sessions:
In order to familiarise people with the location, as well as the stories, we embarked on a series of walks and talks, involving our studio artists Claire Pitt and Lauren Quayle. Originally planned as just one walk, it quickly became apparent that due to the amount of history we would be covering across the stories, it was more prudent to split them into two walks. During the walks, you not only get to share more information about the stories and history but also discuss people’s thoughts and feelings about the project as a whole.
Delving into topics such as bombs, pubs/pub tokens, the census, and The Shaws (Grappling Corps and More), the route led participants from Hazlehurst Studios to Dukesfield via the Dukey Tunnel. The journey continued through Ashridge Street, Brindley Street, Speakman Street, Waterloo Road, Lord Street (Southbank), Egerton Street, and back to Hazlehurst Studios. Upon returning, participants were encouraged to stamp their favourite tales on a hand-drawn map.
Focusing on Aethelflaed, The Bear, 1877, Tommy Burns, and the Transporter Bridge, the route started from Hazlehurst Studios, cutting through the Library and onto Church Street, then turning onto Waterloo Street and Mersey Road. The journey included stops at the potential street art location 'Concrete Viaduct Pier,' Mersey Promenade, before concluding at All Saints Church. Upon returning, participants were encouraged to stamp their favourite tales on a hand-drawn map.
During this phase, In-person engagement: 199 participants (96 at the open day, 65 in college, and 38 in workshops/walk and talks).
What’s the ‘What Next’:
Feedback is crucial when it comes to projects like this, so if you could fill in this simple form, you can help to develop what happens next. This survey will be open from the 1st of January to the 31st of January Survey Link