News & Forthcoming Highlights

It’s All Going On In Warrington so we’ve listed some forthcoming highlights below

Circus of Horrors phenomenon returns to Warrington with new show

The phenomenon that is Circus of Horrors is returning to Parr Hall next year with its latest incarnation.

After taking to the road over 22 years ago and touring all over the world, the alternative circus troupe, which mixes horror and burlesque with the bizarre, is back with new show Voodoo.

Awoken by a Ouija board, a Voodoo curse causes devastation; while the city sleeps the night creatures rule the underworld.

This new show features bizarre and amazing circus acts from all over the world, some never seen before in the UK, all performed to devil-driven rock n roll and interwoven with the darkest of magic.

Voodoo promises to be the biggest revolution of the Circus of Horrors for many years; a spectacular event which takes the show to a whole new level, driven by a largely original soundscape and performed with a forked tongue firmly in each cheek.

Audiences will certainly die laughing.

Wednesday 21 March 2018, 7.30pm, £26/£23/£22/£19/£18, Parr Hall.

Buy tickets here

Top touring theatre company’s latest show to entertain town’s kids next month

Warrington families are in for a festive treat next month with the new show Father Christmas Comes up Trumps!

Hugely popular touring company TaleGate Theatre is returning to Parr Hall following the success of family favourites Father Christmas Needs a Wee and The Giant’s Loo Roll which both entertained the Warrington audience last year.

Now Father Christmas is back and this time he’s had three helpings of sprouts!

As he tries to deliver the presents, his tummy rumbles, gurgles and groans but Father Christmas knows he must keep it in – he doesn’t want to wake anyone up!

TaleGate Theatre productions hit the perfect combination of witty humour, fantastic music and that little extra sparkle for which they have become known and loved.

Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps! is a fabulously funny and brilliantly bouncy musical adaptation of Nicholas Allan’s sequel to Father Christmas Needs a Wee.

Artistic director James Worthington said: “We are very excited to tour our new festive musical across the UK.

“It promises to beat our own high standard and really pack a tuneful punch.

“We are really lucky to be working with Nicholas Allan again on another of his books as they are perfect for cheeky children everywhere.

“When even the title makes you laugh you know you are in for a good time!”

Sunday 3 December, 11am and 2.30pm, £12/£10/£40 family ticket, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Frank, funny and filthy comedian Sarah Millican announces extra Warrington date

The frank, funny and unapologetically filthy comedian Sarah Millican has announced an extra date at Warrington’s Parr Hall next year.

Already signed up for Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 December 2018, the much-loved funny girl will now also be gracing us with her presence for a performance on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Tickets for the extra date go on sale at 10am this Wednesday, 8 November, and are sure to sell fast.

Sarah Millican is not a control freak, she’s a control enthusiast; she even controls her own insults.

On this new tour, Control Enthusiast, she asks “do you arrange the nights out?” and “are you in charge of passports on holiday?” If so, then you’re a control enthusiast too!

The Warrington audience will learn about Rescue Men, farting in hospital pants, what can happen at a bra fitting and the benefits of casserole, plus tips on how to talk to shop assistants and the correct way to eat a biscuit, as Sarah shares fresh stories of her “super normal life”.

Sarah rose to fame by telling painfully honest but immediately identifiable stories about her divorce and has since become a much-loved comedian who is never afraid to draw on her real life experiences for inspiration, no matter how embarrassing or cringeworthy they may be!

Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 December 2018, doors 7.15pm, starts 8pm, £27.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Celebration of Whitney Houston’s life and music on route to Warrington

A celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston is on route to Warrington.

Whitney – Queen of the Night is a stunning celebration of one of the greatest singers of our time.

This award-winning production features breathtaking performances from a sensational line-up of musicians and artistes, and delivers a show that exceeds expectation on every level.

The Parr Hall audience will be taken on a magical rollercoaster ride through three decades of classic hits, including I Wanna Dance with Somebody, One Moment in Time, I’m Every Woman, My Love is Your Love, So Emotional, Run to You, Saving All My Love, I Will Always Love You, and many more.

Whitney – Queen of the Night beautifully remembers the most highly-awarded female artiste in the world; her one true legacy was her music, which touched millions of people around the world.

Get ready for the “greatest love of all” with Queen of the Night.

Saturday 14 April 2018, doors 6.45pm, starts 7.30pm, £23, Parr Hall

Buy tickets now

‘Fastlove’ tribute to George Michael booked for unforgettable night in Warrington

George Michael fans are being advised to prepare for an unforgettable evening celebrating the global superstar.

Fastlove – A Tribute to George Michael promises to “put the boom boom” into your heart in an all-new production packed full of the musical icon’s biggest hits.

From the Wham classics of the new pop revival to the chart-topping success of the eighties album Faith, plus the awesome tunes of the nineties and noughties, this is a spellbinding experience fans will not want to miss.

Expect to hear Careless WhisperFreedomFaithFather FigureOutsideJesus to a Child, and many more.

Relive the passion, the flare and the unique sensitivity of George Michael in this incredible concert sensation.

NB Disclaimer: this show is not affiliated with or endorsed by George Michael or his estate.

Saturday 17 February 2018, doors 6.45pm, starts 7.30pm, £24, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Warrington musician kicks off festive season with home town gig

Internationally renowned Warrington-born musician Peter Price will be starting the festive season with a home town performance this December.

The singer and guitarist will be returning to Pyramid with another top quality show on Friday 1 December and tickets are on sale now.

Peter has a brilliant international reputation, having played festivals and concerts across the UK, Europe and North America.

His audiences are taken on strange and exotic journeys, from the folk and country blues style of Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and Lead Belly, to jazz, Latin and world music.

A gifted artist, Peter’s performances demonstrate a mind-boggling mastery of the acoustic guitar, a rich singing voice and a relaxed yet compelling stage presence.

For this show he will also be joined on stage by some very special guests, guaranteeing an evening not to be missed.

The Guardian described him as “an acoustic blues virtuoso” and leading acoustic blues singer-songwriter Eric Bibb said Peter was “one of those wonderful British guitarists… a great musician.”

Friday 1 December 2017, 7.30pm, £15, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

Public asked to help make Warrington Festival bigger and better

Residents are being asked to help make Warrington Festival bigger and better by answering a short questionnaire.

The first Warrington Festival took place in 2015, organised by a board of partners from major organisations in the town including LiveWire, Warrington Borough Council and Culture Warrington.

25 events attracted more than 20,000 people – Pixie Lott headlined an open air gig at Bank Park, with other attractions including the English Half Marathon, a cycle festival, a medieval market and country fair.

2017’s highlights included the RivFest outdoor music festival, Warrington MELA, Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, youth volunteering events and a family mile.

Organisers now hope to make Warrington Festival even bigger and better by asking the public to provide feedback to help enhance the offer for 2018, ensuring it meets the needs and expectations of visitors.

To complete the short questionnaire visit http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/WARRFEST/

The closing date for responses is Friday 8 December 2017.

Parr Hall panto cast to spread festive cheer at Christmas lights switch-on

Cast members of this year’s Parr Hall panto will once again be spreading some festive cheer at the Golden Square Christmas lights switch-on.

The talented team, who will be bringing us Jack and the Beanstalk in January, are to entertain the crowds in Market Square on Friday 10 November from 6pm as part of a special free event to mark the official start of the Christmas period in Warrington.

They will be joining popular CBBC characters Dick and Dom, children’s favourite Justin Fletcher, Warrington Wolves players and the man of the moment, Father Christmas.

Jack and the Beanstalk, which will be entertaining audiences at Parr Hall between 5-14 January, promises to be a giant of a pantomime, full of beans and packed with “fee, fi, fo, fun”!

After getting into big trouble with his mother for selling their cow for a handful of beans, Jack’s dreams come true when they start to grow.

Tony Peers, of Tony Peers Productions which produces the panto, said: “Join Jack on the adventure of a lifetime as he outwits the giant and makes his fortune.

“This is a timeless tale which continues to capture the imagination of children of all ages.

“The cast are very excited to meet all the boys and girls of Warrington during the run in January and can’t wait for an early visit in November to share in the magic of the Christmas lights switch-on.”

Friday 5 – Sunday 14 January 2018, various times, £12.50/£10.50/£40 family ticket/offers available, Parr Hall

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Parr Hall celebrates timeless sound of The Magic of Motown

The timeless soundtrack that is The Magic of Motown is returning to Warrington next month for a spectacular show.

Music fans are invited to the biggest party of the year as this unstoppable genre steams into town with a performance at Parr Hall on Saturday 18 November, 8pm.

Now seen by more than 1 million people all over the world, the Warrington audience should prepare itself for 40 back-to-back classic Motown hits, glittering costume changes, dazzling dance moves and outstanding musicianship in this explosive concert experience.

The enduring music of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, Jackson 5, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson and many more is sensationally recreated by an exceptionally talented cast and band.

This breathtaking spectacular takes audiences on a musical journey through the best Motown songs including Ain’t No MountainSigned Sealed DeliveredGrapevineGet ReadyDancing in the StreetsMy GirlBlame it on the Boogie and many, many more.

Saturday 18 November 2017, 8pm, £27/£25/10th ticket free, Parr Hall.

Buy tickets now

Original bagpipe band Red Hot Chilli Pipers celebrate 15 years with Warrington gig

There has never been anything quite like Red Hot Chilli Pipers: the original bagpipe band are celebrating 15 years with a gig at Parr Hall.

From their formation in 2002 and a cameo appearance at with The Darkness at T in the Park in 2004, to opening the festival’s main stage in their own right in 2014, the past fifteen years have seen the Red Hot Chilli Pipers become the most famous bagpipe band on the planet… ever!

Bagpipes with attitude, drums with a Scottish accent and a show that carries its own health warning are heading to Warrington on Friday 17 November.

The band’s achievements have reached incredible heights thanks to their ground-breaking fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock/pop anthems which they proudly call “bagrock”.

Red Hot Chilli Pipers are a genuinely unique experience and they have never been more in demand for their infectious style of feel-good music which appeals right across the age range to people all over the world.

They have collected together an impressive group of musicians from Scotland and further afield, many holding World Championship titles and all seriously good players with impressive credentials and qualifications.

In 2014 the Chilli Pipers released a live DVD and CD entitled Live at the Lake, which captured an explosive evening of entertainment at Milwaukee Irish Fest, the band’s US spiritual home, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

During the winter of 2015/2016 the Pipers recorded new tracks and released a new studio album, Octane, which represents a high energy, powerful, intense and inspiring album; it’s a continued fusion of traditional tunes and rock classics which takes bagrock to a whole new level.

Friday 17 November 2017, 8pm, £22.50, Parr Hall

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Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss to visit Warrington next month

NOW is the stunning new show from Scotland’s internationally acclaimed and award-winning stand-up Daniel Sloss, and it’s coming to Warrington next month.

The comedian has made no less than a record seven appearances on late-night talk show Conan, and to date has performed nine sell-out Edinburgh Fringe shows and two solo off-Broadway seasons.

He has also released a DVD, given a Tedx Talk at 19 years old and toured extensively to rave reviews throughout Australasia, the USA, UK and Europe.

Australia’s Herald Sun said: “Sloss is simply world class, endearingly unabashed, hilarious… intelligently and ironically calling out the hypocrisy of human nature.”

The New York Times described him as “dirty, sweet and clever”, Mail on Sunday said he performed “deliciously dark stand-up” and Sunday Times said he was “brilliantly dark” and “razor-sharp”.

Daniel Sloss will be performing at Pyramid on Friday 17 November, 7.30pm; tickets are on sale now.

Friday 17 November 2017, doors 7pm, starts 7.30pm, £14.50/£12, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

WArrington Music website to celebrate fifth anniversary with live music night at Parr Hall

Popular website WArrington Music is celebrating its fifth anniversary next year with a special night of live music at Parr Hall, headlined by Slydigs.

WArringtonMusic.co.uk was set up by [WAM] five years ago to champion live music in the town and has worked with hundreds of artists during that time.

The event on Friday 16 March 2018 will showcase the best of local talent including a headline set by rock and roll four-piece Slydigs.

Special guests will be funk-rock/soul collective The Winachi Tribe, psychedelic rockers Psyblings and fuzz-pop four-piece The K’s.

2016 saw Slydigs embark on a 19-date North American and European arena tour supporting The Who, which earned them rave reviews.

In 2017 the band released their latest EP, How Animal Are You, backed by a headline tour around the UK and Europe which proved that Slydigs have a thriving fan base.

Frontman Dean Fairhurst said: “This gig is a milestone for us and signifies just how far we have come from starting out in Warrington many years ago.

“It will be our biggest headline show to date and for it to be in our home town is incredible; it’s our true homecoming.

“There’s a great supporting line-up of local acts also on the bill, making this an event not to be missed; we are planning something very special so buy your ticket now and we’ll see you down the front.”

Friday 16 March 2018, doors 7pm, starts 7.30pm, £10, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

In-demand Irish country star Nathan Carter plays extra Warrington date next month

Irish country star Nathan Carter’s extra Warrington date, announced after huge demand, is fast approaching.

The tour comes on the back of his huge 2016 album Stayin’ up all Night which reached No 1 in the charts.

Following on from a year that saw him beat both Beyoncé and Drake to the top spot in his native Ireland, country-pop crossover star Nathan announced a huge run of UK tour dates for 2017.

The charismatic performer then confirmed 16 extra dates due to phenomenal demand, including a show at Parr Hall.

Now one of Ireland’s biggest live music acts, Nathan grew up in a house where country and western music filled the air and was exposed to classic songs by Johnny Cash, Don Williams and Dolly Parton.

From the tender age of four years old, he learned to play guitar, piano and accordion, which play a vital part in his live show now, and quickly became head chorister in the Liverpool Boys Choir with which he toured the world and even performed in front of the Pope in Rome.

Nathan Carter is now developing into a household name, with tracks from Stayin’ up all Night such as Wagon Wheel and Wanna Dance becoming huge hits, and audiences up and down the country demanding tickets to his shows.

He has become a firm favourite for audiences of all ages.

Wednesday 15 November 2017, 7.30pm, Parr Hall, £26

Buy tickets here

Duo of emerging artists lead Warrington contemporary arts extended programme

Holly Rowan Hesson – Echo

Two emerging artists whose work is currently being displayed as part of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (WCAF) are leading an exciting new programme of events and exhibitions.

Ellen Sampson and Holly Rowan Hesson are heading up a new year-long programme of events and exhibitions designed to continue the promotion of contemporary arts after the festival’s Open exhibitions come to a close this weekend.

Ellen has used film, photography and installation to explore the relationships between bodily experience, memory and footwear in her exhibition, Worn: footwear, attachment and affective experience, which is on display now at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

Fascinated as a child by the magical shoes in fairytales, Ellen trained as a shoemaker before becoming an artist.

Ellen Sampson – Worn

Worn examines our relationship with and attachment to shoes, and suggests that through use shoes become records of their wearer’s experience and extended parts of the self.

She said: “By focusing on the shoe as an everyday object, and on the experience of wearing, I explore how through touch and use we become entangled with the things we wear.

“I look at how, through wear, our shoes become records of our journeys and lives, and how the marks upon the shoe, as traces of these experiences, can be read.”

Holly Rowan Hesson’s Echo, a projection and sculptural installation, creates dialogues with materials, memory and the physical space at Pyramid Arts Centre.

Holly Rowan Hesson – Echo

She said: “Through intuitive and process-led image-making, I create dialogues with material, sites and residual memories.

“This regularly starts with interrogations in specific man-made structures, buildings and physical spaces.

“Exploring uncertainty and transience, my work is concerned with the actual fragility and transitory nature of what seems solid, weighty and permanent, both physically and also in the way things are perceived.

“Using the visual language and formal concerns of abstraction, my resulting sculptural and installation work is multi-layered, often with uncertain depth of focus.”

Both exhibitions are on display until Saturday 27 January 2018.

Thanks to support from Arts Council England, Culture Warrington, the charity which runs WCAF, the museum, art gallery and arts centre, is now developing a year-round contemporary arts engagement and development programme, starting with Ellen and Holly’s exhibitions.

By working with partners from across the North West, the charity plans to commission local, regional and national artists to connect with Warrington’s neighbourhoods throughout the year, culminating in WCAF 2018.

Maureen Banner, Culture Warrington board chair, said: “While we look forward to Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival as an annual highlight it’s exciting to consider that this year we’ll have a new ongoing programme of events to keep the momentum going.

“With help from Arts Council England we’ll be able to continue bringing contemporary art to a wider audience by creating ambitious and inclusive projects.”

NB Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival is part of a wider calendar of events held across Cheshire in association with Slant, the county’s cultural destination programme.

Listings information

Exhibition title: Ellen Sampson – Worn: footwear, attachment and affective experience

Dates: Until Saturday 27 January 2018

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Listings information

Exhibition title: Holly Rowan Hesson – Echo

Dates: Until Saturday 27 January 2018

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Pyramid Arts Centre, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL

http://www.pyramidparrhall.com/

Not Going Out funny man Tim Vine confirmed to bring stand-up silliness to Warrington

Not Going Out funny man Tim Vine will be bringing his unique brand of silly stand-up to Parr Hall next year.

The Sunset Milk Idiot tour, which visits Warrington on Thursday 1 March 2018, promises lots of silly jokes, new homemade props and the singing of daft new ditties, all with “the appearance of confidence”.

Tim said: “The following subjects will be touched upon briefly: pixie football, ice cream and nibble feeders; so come along, sit down, and laugh.

“The quantity won’t let up; this is comedy without a message.

The show will leave audiences thinking “what an odd person”, “what a lot of nonsense” and “what else is he going to do?”

“Sunsets are in the sky, milk’s nice and I’m an idiot,” he added.

Tim appeared in five series of the award-winning sitcom Not Going Out alongside Lee Mack, played Beach the Butler in series two of Blandings with Timothy Spall and Jennifer Saunders, and has appeared on Live at the Apollo and QI.

A man of many talents, he has also won Celebrity Mastermind, hosted ITV game show Don’t Blow the Inheritance, been a regular on Countdown’s Dictionary Corner and appeared on Comic Relief takeovers of Fame AcademyLet’s Dance and Let’s Play Darts, as well as popping up on a Downton Abbey spoof.

On Celebrity Total Wipeout he fell off everything.

In 2010 and 2014 Tim won the Dave TV channel award for ‘Best Joke at the Edinburgh Fringe’, the only person to have won it twice; he has successfully toured all of his stand-up shows, with five accompanying DVDs under his belt and has released two books.

Thursday 1 March, 8pm, £23.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Last few tickets remaining for Irish superstar Imelda May at Parr Hall

There are now only a few tickets remaining for diverse singer-songwriter Imelda May’s Parr Hall performance in November.

The Warrington date was added to the tour, which includes London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, following phenomenal demand.

Imelda has been enjoying a positive response to her top five album Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. which features singles Girl I Used to BeCall MeBlack Tears and Should’ve Been You.

Hauntingly beautiful acoustic ballad, Girl I Used to Be, is a memoir of Imelda’s life growing up in the Liberties area of Dublin and the lessons learned which she will pass on to her daughter.

She said: “I love those old story songs where you’re taken on a journey from beginning to end; songs you’re riveted with, like when you’re in the car and you sit in the driveway because you can’t turn the radio off, you have to listen to the end of the story.

“The lyrics are about my family and my daughter, and myself and my life growing up in Dublin.

“We didn’t have much money but my parents are fabulous, creative and open-minded people; they gave me art and literature and encouraged me to do whatever was in my heart, and I want to do that with my daughter.”

One of the most critically-acclaimed releases of 2017, the album spent over a month in the Top 20 and recently returned to the Top 10.

Produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett, Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. was recorded over seven days in Los Angeles and features musical contributions from Jeff Beck, Jools Holland (who “discovered” Imelda) and an accomplished group of backing musicians who between them have performed with the likes of Tom Waits, Robert Plant and The Last Shadow Puppets.

Imelda has become one of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists, has performed alongside legendary artists including Lou Reed and Smokey Robinson, and can count high profile artists like Bob Dylan and Bono as fans.

Monday 13 November 2017, 7pm, £99 VIP package/£35/£25, Parr Hall

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Hilarious musical about the menopause brings TV stars to Warrington

Menopause the Musical promises to have its Warrington audience giggling like schoolgirls when the hilarious show visits town next year.

This hysterical production stars Cheryl Fergison from EastEnders, The Nolans’ Maureen Nolan, Rebecca Wheatley from Casualty, and comedienne and impressionist Hilary O’Neil, ensuring a top quality performance every night.

Packed full of one-liners about night sweats, hot flushes and memory loss, the action is backed by an instantly recognisable soundtrack of innuendo-laden versions of 60s, 70s and 80s pop classics.

Menopause the Musical is an all-singing, all-dancing comedy set in a department store, where four women with seemingly nothing in common meet by chance and make fun of their woeful lives experiencing “the change”.

They soon bond as they realise the menopause is no longer “the silent passage” but an unavoidable stage in every woman’s life.

This ultimate girls night out, which has enjoyed sold out tours around the world, will have the Parr Hall audience laughing and singing all the way home.

NB Age guidance 16+

Friday 23 February 2018, doors 6.45pm, £27.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Comedian Paul Foot’s surreal sense of humour makes first trip to Warrington next month

Surreal comedian Paul Foot is making his first trip to Warrington next month and he is bringing his alter ego and sidekick pig with him.

In Paul’s first new show in two years, Professor Ketchup and his camembert piglet join forces to tackle the big issues like terrorism, Ant and Dec, immigration, The X-Factor and breakfast, in a show intriguingly called Tis a Pity She’s a Piglet.

The multi-award winner has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes including Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Would I Lie to You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, If Katie Hopkins Ruled the World, Russell Howard’s Good News and BBC Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Time Out magazine described him as “utterly outlandish” and said that “beneath layers of absurdity is Foot’s sharp eye for satire”.

And Edinburgh Festival magazine Three Weeks said: “He’s a comedy whirlwind from the school of Spike Milligan.  It’s risky to call someone unique but Foot is certainly pretty close.”

Saturday 11 November 2017, 8pm, £14, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

New Parr Hall children’s booking Don’t Dribble on the Dragon features magic by Paul Daniels

A new children’s show just confirmed to visit Warrington features magic designed by legendary entertainer Paul Daniels.

Don’t Dribble on the Dragon, presented by The People’s Theatre Company, is based on the fabulous new book by Steven Lee and follows Tom the toddler, his cool older brother and a secret dragon.

Tom has a dribbling problem that just won’t stop and when his endless drooling threatens to tear the brothers’ friendship apart the dragon’s amazing magic skills are called upon to put it back together.

Or will it only end up making things worse?

This entertaining musical adventure about growing up and the importance of family is the perfect feel-good show for big-hearted adults and loving little ones alike.

As an extra treat, author Steven will be available to sign copies of Don’t Dribble on the Dragon which audiences are invited to bring along or buy at the show.

Sunday 18 February 2018, 11.30am & 2.30pm, £11/£9/£35 family ticket, Pyramid Arts Centre

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Less than a month until much-loved band The Undertones visit Parr Hall

Much-loved band The Undertones are building on the success of their comeback tour last year with a raft of UK dates, including a trip to Warrington.

Their biggest hit Teenage Kicks became the anthem of a generation and legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who the band listened to religiously as aspiring musicians, was famously so smitten with the track he played it twice back to back and declared it his favourite song of all time.

The Undertones will enjoy support from Warrington folk punk band The Roughneck Riot when they visit Parr Hall on Saturday 11 November, 7.30pm.

2016 marked the band’s 40th anniversary and the Derry boys celebrated with a variety of scorching live performances at festivals and venues throughout the UK and Europe.

The reviews were glowing and many critics and fans said the band are playing as well as, if not better, than ever before.

The shows were an exhilarating live experience for the band and the fans evidently felt the same way.

This success spurred the band on to announce a string of further dates in the UK, including Parr Hall on 11 November, as well as a European tour and their first ever forays into Australia and New Zealand.

Bassist Mickey Bradley said: “To be honest, we had such a great time on the last tour that we thought we’d try our luck again. And I promise to use new bass strings to celebrate.”

2016 also saw vinyl remasters of the band’s first two LPs, The Undertones and Hypnotised, and a 7-inch vinyl remix of the 1979 single Get Over You.

Michael Bradley also published his book Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone.

Saturday 11 November 2017, 7.30pm, £20 advance, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Classic tale of The Sleeping Beauty told at Parr Hall in beautiful ballet

The classic tale of The Sleeping Beauty will be told at Parr Hall in a beautiful production by Vienna Festival Ballet.

The much-loved fairytale of the beautiful princess and the handsome prince will amaze the Warrington audience on Sunday 13 May 2018, complete with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, stunning choreography and beautiful costumes.

The story explores the age-old struggle between good and evil as the wicked Carbosse casts a spell on Princess Aurora, proclaiming that she will one day prick her finger and die.

The Lilac Fairy changes the spell and instead, on that fateful day, the princess and the entire palace fall into a deep sleep.

A century later Prince Désiré revives the princess with a kiss, the palace awakes and a parade of fairytale characters attend the wedding.

Following the traditional tale of Sleeping Beauty, this ballet is sure to enchant audiences of all ages.

Sunday 13 May 2018, 2.30pm, £19.50/£17.50/£12.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Rock royalty Black Star Riders to visit Parr Hall next month with team of special guests

Rock royalty Black Star Riders will be calling in to Parr Hall next month as part of a tour to celebrate the release of their third studio album Heavy Fire.

Ricky Warwick, from Black Star Riders (BSR), said: “There’s nothing more exciting than playing live. BSR are absolutely thrilled to get back out in the UK, it’s a wonderful way to round out a great year.”

Formed in 2012 and taking inspiration for their name from a gang of outlaws in the 1993 western film Tombstone, Black Star Riders are a band of impressive pedigree.

Featuring lead guitarists Scott Gorham (formerly of Thin Lizzy) and Damon Johnson (Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper), lead vocalist/guitarist Ricky Warwick (Thin Lizzy, The Almighty), bassist Robert Crane (Vince Neil, Ratt) and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth), BSR are now in their fifth year with three albums under their belt.

February 2017 saw Black Star Riders release their third studio album Heavy Fire to widespread critical acclaim.

The record went on to gain worldwide chart success, reaching No 1 in the UK rock and indie charts, No 3 in the UK vinyl chart and No 6 in the UK national chart, as well as enjoying success in Germany and USA.

The band are due to share their colossal talent with the Warrington audience on Friday 10 November as part of the Coming Under Heavy Fire tour with support from special guests Blues Pills, Tax the Heat and Dirty Thrills.

Formed in 2011, the multinational quartet Blues Pills released their exciting self-titled debut in 2014 before following up with their sophomore release Lady in Gold in 2016.

They’ve toured non-stop for the past few years playing with the likes of Deep Purple, Rival Sons and Kadavar as well as headline shows; their organic blend of blues, classic rock and soul wins over audiences around the world.

Zack Anderson, from Blues Pills, said: “We are really excited to warm up the stage for these legends. We hope to see a lot of familiar faces in front of the stage and are really looking forward to meeting a lot of new people.”

Tax the Heat have just come out of the studio where they have been recording their follow up to the critically acclaimed debut album Fed to the Lions.

The highly-anticipated, as yet unnamed, second album is scheduled for release by Nuclear Blast Entertainment in early 2018.

London-based Dirty Thrills will open the bill with a set containing songs from their debut album Heavy Living.

Friday 10 November, 6.45pm, £28 advance, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Prepare for A Country Night in Nashville from comfort of Parr Hall

Country music fans are in for a treat next month when Parr Hall hosts A Country Night in Nashville.

The show, which comes to town on Friday 3 November, will take the Warrington audience on a musical journey through the popular genre by recreating a buzzing honky tonk in downtown Nashville.

A Country Night in Nashville perfectly captures the energy and atmosphere of an evening out in the home town of country music; prepare to be transported through the colourful history of country, featuring stars both past and present.

Expect to hear hits from Johnny Cash to Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton to the Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson to Little Big Town, showcased by the amazing Dominic Halpin and the Hurricanes featuring Shelly Quarmby.

Fans of songs like Ring of FireCrazyFollow Your ArrowIt’s Five O’Clock SomewhereNeed You Now9 to 5, and The Gambler, do not want to miss this incredible celebration of the very best of country music.

Friday 3 November, 7.30pm, £23.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Arts festival competition winners announced at packed launch

Robert Watson – Bamburgh

The winners of this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (WCAF) Open competitions have been announced at a packed event to mark the launch.

Experienced multi-disciplinary artist Tracy Hill won the Art Open competition with commendations for two pieces of work – a charcoal on Kozo paper called Cognitive Surveillance II and Matrix of Movement II which featured hand-drawn lithographs also on Kozo paper.

Tracy, who lives in Warrington, described her pieces as considering the historical legacy of post-industrial landscapes along the River Mersey and the Hunter River in Australia.

She said: “They explore perceptions of mapping, digital navigation and how we encounter our rural spaces connected with a modern obsession for locating, ordering and fragmenting our experiences.”

Having also been the winner of the first ever WCAF Art Open competition back in 2011, Tracy added: “I have always supported the festival. Since its inception, WCAF has provided an important platform for regional artists of all disciplines and stages of their careers.

“WCAF is a unique opportunity which is key for inspiring the next generation of artists; it is the point in the year when the artistic community come together and show the diversity and strength of creativity in the region.”

Second place went to Francesca Neal, who has just completed her Masters in Fine Art at Manchester School of Art, for her oil on canvas piece entitled Perfformiad.

She said: “It’s great to know there are opportunities available to artists in Warrington and the surrounding area to engage with events like Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, which always has an exciting programme.

“I’m thrilled to be a runner-up in this year’s Art Open.”

The judges commended the standard of entries in both competitions, choosing Robert Watson as the winner of the Photography Open for his picture entitled Bamburgh, a striking black and white image which captures mist rolling across a rocky outcrop.

“I was absolutely bowled over to win,” he said. “I’ve taken pictures all my life as my dad was a keen photographer but this is the first competition I’ve entered.

“I’m both excited and nervous at having won a solo show but I feel like I’m on the first rung of the ladder now.”

Second place went to Harry Horton from Great Sankey for his Girls on Bicycle, Vietnam.

He said he was grateful to WCAF, which is organised by arts charity Culture Warrington, for giving him the opportunity to exhibit his work.

“It was a really nice surprise to finish in second place and I’ll definitely be entering the competition again next year,” he added.

The two winners will each enjoy a solo exhibition next year and a cash prize of £250 to help facilitate their work, while the runners-up won £100.

Entries for the Art and Photography Opens are on display now at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and The Gallery at Bank Quay House respectively, until Saturday 28 October.

Visitors to the exhibitions can help choose the winner of the Python Oakley People’s Choice prize by nominating their favourite entries; voting slips are available at both venues and the winner will be announced at the close of the exhibition.

Maureen Banner, Culture Warrington board chair, said: “The launch was a wonderful evening to celebrate Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, one of the main highlights in the Culture Warrington calendar.

“It was brilliant to see so many people at the event keen to celebrate the wealth of talent here in the Warrington area and it was an honour to award the winners with their well-deserved prizes.

“The standard of work entered in the art and photography competitions was very impressive and it must have been a difficult job for the judges who had to choose between them, so a big thankyou to them.”

The winners were announced at a packed launch night in Warrington Museum & Art Gallery on Friday following a ‘cultural crawl’ from Bank Quay House via Pyramid Arts Centre.

Also on display as part of the festival is Echo, a new installation at Pyramid by Holly Rowan Hesson which explores uncertainty and transience, and Worn: footwear, attachment and affective experience by Ellen Sampson, an artist who explores the relationships between bodily experience, memory and artefacts, at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

More information on the full programme can be found at www.warringtonartsfestival.co.uk

NB Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival is part of a wider calendar of events held across Cheshire in association with Slant, the county’s cultural destination programme.

Extra Warrington dates announced for hugely popular comedian, musician and actor Bill Bailey

Hugely popular comedian Bill Bailey has announced two extra Warrington dates to share his unique meld of music, political satire and flights of surreal fancy.

The comedy veteran, famed for his signature stand-up style and appearances on Never Mind the BuzzcocksQI, Have I Got News for You and Black Books, will now delight the Warrington audience with his energetic charm on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 June 2018, as well as the previously announced Friday 9 March 2018 show.

His new tour, Larks in Transit, is a compendium of travellers’ tales and general shenanigans from Bill’s 20 years as a comedian.

With musical virtuosity, surreal tangents and trademark intelligence, Bill Bailey tackles politics, philosophy and the pursuit of happiness.

Plus, he fashions a symphony from a ringtone, tells the real story of Old McDonald and re-imagines the Stars and Stripes.

This show will feature two decades of touring larks from a comedian described by The Daily Telegraph as “the brainiest comic of his generation”, and give a glimpse into the colourful life of a much-loved man and the adventures he has experienced along the way.

There’s no wonder The Guardian Guide said Bill was “approaching the status of national treasure”.

Tickets for the second and third performances on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 June 2018 go on sale this Friday, 13 October at 10am.

But tickets here

Outstanding musical production celebrates The Elvis Years in Warrington

The Elvis Years is an outstanding musical production which brings to Warrington’s Parr Hall the incredible and compelling story of the “king of rock and roll”.

With a top line-up of actor-musicians, multiple costume changes and nostalgic film footage, this glittering two-hour show charts the musical and emotional highs and lows of Elvis Presley’s’ amazing journey, from poor truck-driving teenager from Tupelo, Mississippi through the army, Hollywood and finally the legendary Las Vegas concerts.

The Elvis Years also remembers milestones like his first legendary The Sun Sessions compilation, the Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride performances, the death of his beloved mother and the 1968 Comeback Special.

Six decades after Elvis first walked into Sun Studios in Memphis as a teenage truck driver, the story of “The King” is being brought to life on stages across the UK in this authentic concert, featuring Mario Kombou from the highly acclaimed West End musical Jailhouse Rock and led by legendary producer, musical director and Ivor Novello Awards-winner David Mackay.

This energetic show is a complete theatrical experience which transports the audience on a musical and emotional journey they will never forget.

Friday 27 October, 7.30pm, £22/£19.50/10th ticket free, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

American rock band Dr Hook’s extra date at Parr Hall now just a month away

The Warrington date added to Dr Hook’s Timeless tour due to overwhelming demand is now just a month away.

Starring original singer Dennis Locorriere, the band enjoyed a series of sell-out performances in 2016 and to celebrate added a string of new shows, including one at Parr Hall on Saturday 21 October, at 7.30pm.

From the very beginnings of Dr Hook to the height of their success, Dennis Locorriere was the unmistakable voice of the American rock band’s biggest hits and best-loved songs.

Receiving more than 70 Platinum and Gold Discs, Dr Hook have reached legendary status in many countries.

The current tour promises the revival of special memories, with classics such as Sylvia’s Mother, Sexy Eyes, A Little Bit More, When You’re in Love with a Beautiful WomanSharing the Night Together, The Cover of Rolling Stone and Queen of the Silver Dollar.

Don’t miss this opportunity of seeing Dr Hook live!

Saturday 21 October, 7.30pm, £35/£32/£29, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

‘Remarkable’ jazz pianist and composer Zoe Rahman to visit Pyramid next month for top quality show

Jazz pianist and composer Zoe Rahman is to perform with the Inner City Ensemble at Warrington’s Pyramid arts centre next month.

Described by the Observer as “a remarkable pianist by any standard”, Zoe Rahman has firmly established herself as one of the brightest stars on the contemporary jazz scene.

A vibrant and highly individual artist, her style is deeply rooted in jazz yet reflects her classical background, British/Bengali heritage and her very broad musical taste.

Known for her powerful technique, wide-ranging imagination and exuberant performances, Zoe has become a highly sought-after musician, recently working with the likes of George Mraz, Courtney Pine and Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra.

She is a winner of the prestigious UK Parliamentary Jazz Award and has previously been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

For this third edition of the Jazz Directors Series, presented by Band on the Wall, Rahman is performing with the Inner City Ensemble, an evolving nine-piece group of the UK’s most promising emerging professional musicians, selected through an open call application process.

The current lineup is: Aleksandra Topczewska – alto saxophone; Arnaud Guichard – tenor saxophone; Daniel Mitchell – trombone; Faye MacCalman – clarinet; Hanna Mbuya – tuba; James Brady – trumpet; Maria Rehakova – flute; Roz McDonald – bass; and Yusuf Ahmed – drums.

The ensemble will play Rahman’s arrangements of pieces from previous trio and quartet albums including her latest solo album Dreamland, plus additional repertoire by jazz greats Duke Ellington and Abdullah Ibrahim, and new material never previously performed live.

Saturday 21 October, 8pm, £14 advance/£16 on the door, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

Special exhibition launched to celebrate art gallery’s 140th anniversary

A special exhibition to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Warrington’s art gallery has launched, bringing together some of the best items in its collection.

Warrington Art Treasures is the first in a series of displays celebrating important events in the history of Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, including the opening of the Large Art Gallery in October 1877.

When the museum – the oldest public museum in the North West – opened in Bold Street in 1857 it was also home to the Warrington School of Art; the gallery was added to showcase the work of the school’s former pupils who had gained national and even international reputations and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy.

The exhibition, which runs until 21 April, coincides with celebrations for the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary which takes place next year, highlighting Warrington’s link with the Academy.

Janice Hayes, heritage manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, explained the importance of marking such an occasion.

She said: “The 4th of October is a special date in our town’s history as it marks the official opening of the Large Art Gallery which houses fine art and contemporary collections.

“The museum and art gallery are an integral part of our town’s culture and heritage, and this anniversary is a great excuse to shout about our local history and the amazing items we have in our collection.

“In the mid-nineteenth century the new borough of Warrington was emerging as a leading economic and cultural centre in the North West.

“Warrington Museum played a key role in ensuring that the town’s artists were also part of the national arts scene; these Victorian aspirations are mirrored by the ambition of contemporary Warrington to become a UK City of Culture.”

Before the opening of the art gallery, the Bold Street Grade II listed building was also home to Warrington School of Art from 1857.

The Warrington Art Treasures exhibition features work by the school’s most famous pupil, Sir Luke Fildes, who progressed from illustrating for Charles Dickens and the 19th century newspaper The Graphic, to become a leading social-realist artist, confidant of painter/illustrator John Everett Millais and painter/sculptor Lord Leighton, before becoming a society portrait painter and respected Royal Academician.

Luke Fildes’ ‘Fair, Quiet and Sweet Rest’

Venetian genre paintings by his brother-in-law Henry Woods were a regular highlight of Royal Academy exhibitions and went on to feature in many public collections, and are now included in our very own Warrington Art Treasures exhibition.

Local sculptor John Warrington Wood was a prominent member of the Roman arts scene and was honoured with a specially commissioned work, a statue of Saint Michael overcoming Satan, which took centre stage when the new art gallery opened.

Also featured in the exhibition are works by local artists Edward Frederick Brewtnall and other Royal Academy exhibitors including Walter Langley and Frank Brangwyn.

Listings information

Exhibition title: Warrington Art Treasures

Dates: Until Saturday 21 April 2018

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Culture staff run half marathon and 10K to bring arts activities to communities

Some of the Culture Warrington staff who took part in the races at the start line. L-R: Laura Brimmelow, Andrea Morley, Locklynne Hall, Caroline Sutton and Cheryl Siddall

Staff from Culture Warrington have raised more than £800 for the arts charity by taking part in this year’s English Half Marathon and 10K.

The money will be used to purchase an arts cart to enable the charity to deliver arts and craft sessions in hard-to-reach communities.

The cart will allow Culture Warrington to offer more free craft sessions, in addition to those that currently run at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, which are oversubscribed.

It will provide a one-stop-shop for art activities to be delivered anywhere for free, supporting families and children in the town who enjoy these activities.

Culture Warrington, which runs three key cultural venues in the town – Parr Hall, Pyramid and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, was established as a charity in 2012 to support arts, heritage and events across the borough.

Eight staff from Culture Warrington and its sister company, LiveWire, took part in the races, with a number of staff members achieving personal best times.

Andrea Morley, fundraising and sponsorship officer at Culture Warrington, said: “The team have worked really hard to train for this race and to raise as much as possible to expand our craft activities.

“Many of those who took part have never run a long distance race before, so they should be extremely proud of themselves to have completed this challenge.

“It’s also given many of the 10K runners a real taste for competitive racing, with some of them hoping to train even harder and take on the half marathon next year.

“A big thanks also goes to TouchLine, who sponsored Culture Warrington and enabled us to purchase our purple running vests.”

There is still time to donate, please visit https://mydonate.bt.com/events/culturewarringtonrunsehm/445490

 

Charity presents unique musical performance to raise awareness of dementia

Charitable organisation Music in Mind is presenting a unique performance at Pyramid arts centre to raise awareness of dementia.

Hidden Voice, which takes place on Friday 13 October, features composer John McHugh and the Mishima Quartet in a unique multimedia composition based on the melodies and rhythms in the speech of people living with dementia to create a powerful and emotional musical experience.

Live musicians, audio and film will take the audience into the innermost thoughts of the people on the screen.

Described by NHS clinical director for dementia Professor Alistair Burns as a “unique relationship between music and dementia”, Hidden Voice uses the melodies from speech to capture the individual stories in a unique and beautiful way.

John McHugh is a widely experienced composer, performer and music educator who has composed music in many forms ranging from advertising campaigns for Lucozade and Delta Airways to ballets, music theatre, classical and multimedia works for the concert hall.

The Mishima Quartet have played together for many years as part of The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

They have worked with John McHugh on many projects including large scale concert pieces, educational works for schoolchildren and music for the string quartet and Balinese gamelan style of music.

Tickets for the performance, which starts at 7.30pm, are on sale now.

Friday 13 October 2017, 7.30pm, £13.50/£9/£11 groups of 10 or more, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

Chris & Pui bring friends back to Warrington for family show

Everyone’s favourite CBeebies double act Chris & Pui are bringing their popular family show back to Parr Hall next month, just in time for the school holidays.

The two shows, on Sunday 22 October, promise songs, comedy sketches, a dash of magic and heaps of joining in for all the family.

Familiar Chris & Pui TV characters including Incy Wincy, Twinkle, Old MacDonald, Humpty and Granny Humpty will be dropping by, along with the toys – Tom, Momo, Teddington, Stuffy and Miss Mouse.

Catch the Gingerbread Man, marvel at the Ugly Duckling becoming a beautiful swan and “oooh” and “aaah” as Miss Mouse attempts to zoom zoom zoom to the cheesy moon in her rocket.

Chris & Pui have been a double act for over a decade working every day on CBeebies, the BBC’s pre-school brand.

They currently star in their own programme Show Me Show Me, which airs twice a day and fulfils the old Play School remit with its promise of discovery through songs, rhymes and imaginative play. Last summer they filmed series six.

Most recently Chris starred in CBeebies’ Stargazing, featuring astronaut Tim Peake in the International Space Station along with Miss Mouse who has been floating around in zero gravity much to the amusement of her fans and followers.

The show promises to entertain any age, from 2 to 102, and tickets are on sale now.

Sunday 22 October 2017, 11am & 2pm, £12/£10/£40 family ticket, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival 2017 ready to launch

(C) Ellen Sampson

A still from Ellen Sampson’s ‘Dance’. © Ellen Sampson

This year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival will launch on Friday 29 September with the announcement of the Open competition winners and a ‘cultural crawl’ tour of the venues.

This exciting event will give the public a first glimpse of entries to the Art and Photography Open competitions, which will be displayed at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and The Gallery at Bank Quay House respectively from the launch night until the end of October.

The first place prizes are £250 and a solo exhibition in 2018 and runners-up are awarded £100.

The winners of the 2016 Open competitions are currently enjoying the solo exhibitions they won last year – a first for both of them.

Artist Bex Ilsley’s Emotional Processing is on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery throughout the festival until Saturday 28 October, and fine art photographer Steve Deer’s A New Perspective can be seen in The Gallery at Bank Quay House until Monday 25 September.

Also confirmed for the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (WCAF) programme will be a new installation called Echo by Holly Rowan Hesson, at Pyramid arts centre.

The installation explores uncertainty, transience and the gap between, and interplay within, purely sensory feeling and experience and more literal, rational thought-based experience and memory.

Holly Rowan Hesson’s ‘Assembly 4’

Holly said: “Echo comprises projection and sculptural work to create dialogues with materials, memory and the physical space.

“My work in general is concerned with the fragility and transitory nature of what seems solid, weighty and permanent, both physically and also in the way things are perceived.”

Ellen Sampson, an artist who explores the relationships between bodily experience, memory and artefacts, will be using film, photography and installation at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery in an exhibition called Worn: footwear, attachment and affective experience.

She said: “This exhibition explores our relationship with and attachment to shoes.

“Focusing on the shoe as an everyday object, and on the embodied experience of wearing, I explore how through touch and use we become entangled with the things we wear.

“I look at how material objects can become records of lived experience and how these traces of experience can be read or understood by the viewer.”

Both of these exhibitions will be on display until January.

Maureen Banner, board chair for Culture Warrington, the charity which organises WCAF, said she was excited about the upcoming festival launch and cultural crawl.

“The festival is a major highlight in Culture Warrington’s calendar and a great way for us to come together with our creative community,” she said.

The launch night on Friday 29 September begins at 6pm in The Gallery at Bank Quay House, followed by a trail around the exhibitions and venues, before the Open competition winners are announced at 8pm in Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

More information on the full programme can be found at www.warringtonartsfestival.co.uk

NB Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival runs alongside Warrington Festival, which celebrates the arts, food, sport and heritage in the town, and is part of a wider calendar of events held across Cheshire in association with Slant, the county’s cultural destination programme.

Vintage band Stiff Little Fingers bring sounds of the punk generation to Warrington

Vintage band Stiff Little Fingers are bringing the sounds of the punk generation to Warrington’s Parr Hall next month.

After many studio albums and countless tours, the band are finding themselves more in demand than ever; they are currently working on a new album with many of the songs being debuted at live gigs, to a tremendous response from the fans.

Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) were formed in 1977 in Belfast and, along with the likes of The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Jam, Buzzcocks, The Undertones, Sham 69 and The Stranglers, they were at the forefront of the punk movement.

SLF’s signature style comprises lyrics that meld the personal and political, music that combines the energy of punk with infectious hooks, and delivery that rings of honesty and commitment.

Their live shows continue to be special events of energy and power and, though now focused on their new material, the band continues to play the old favourites at gigs.

Saturday 7 October, 8pm, £20, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

New music night joins old favourite in bringing classic sounds to Parr Hall

Warrington will boogie the night away this September with a brand new music event to run alongside an old favourite at Parr Hall.

Music lovers are being invited to don their dance shoes for a weekend of 70s disco, Motown and club soul’s most memorable melodies.

Returning to Parr Hall on Friday 29 September, 70s Disco has proven itself to be an unforgettable night which fans flock to as they step back in time to the disco era, complete with all that glitters, and all that hair!

National DJs will be playing original vinyl and bringing back the sounds of Billy Ocean, Barry White, Edwin Starr, Chairmen of the Board, Bay City Rollers, Detroit Spinners, Donna Summer, Three Degrees, Chic, Kool and The Gang, T. Rex, Sister Sledge, and many more.

For those who prefer something a bit more soulful, we have a new night starting the following evening, Saturday 30 September – Motown and Club Soul.

Be there for the first event of its kind at Parr Hall and enjoy the sounds of the 60s and 70s: expect to hear music by Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Contours, Edwin Starr to name a few.

These two fantastic nights out are not to be missed! Tickets are on sale now.

70s Disco, Friday 29 September, 8pm, £7, Parr Hall. Buy tickets here.

Motown & Club Soul, Saturday 30 September, 8pm, £7, Parr Hall. Buy tickets here.

Heritage Open Days 2017

Here’s a list of what’s on in Warrington during this year’s Heritage Open Days Festival (7-10 September 2017)

Please note, these events are not organised by Culture Warrington or Warrington Museum & Art Gallery. Please contact the individual organisations listed below for more details, or look at the Heritage Open Days website. Information correct at the time of going to press.


Thursday 7th September
• St Mary’s Church in Great Sankey is open 10 am – 4 pm

Friday 8th September
• St Oswald’s Church in Winwick is open 10 am – 3 pm
• St Mary’s Church in Great Sankey is open 10 am – 4 pm
• Hatton: a century of change – meet at the car park of the Hatton Arms at 6 pm

Saturday 9th September
• Halliwell Jones Stadium is open 9.30 am – 12.30 pm
• Cairo Street Chapel is open 10 am – 4 pm
• Church of St John the Evangelist in Walton is open 10 am – 4 pm
• Museum of Freemasonry is open 10 am – 4 pm (with pageants at 11 am and 1 pm)
• Museum of Policing in Cheshire is open 10 am – 4 pm
• St Mary’s Church in Great Sankey is open 10 am – 4 pm
• St Oswald’s Church in Winwick is open 10 am – 3 pm

Sunday 10th September
• Cairo Street Chapel is open 12 noon – 4 pm (with lecture on prominent Unitarians at 3 pm)
• Museum of Freemasonry is open 10 am – 4 pm
• St Mary’s Church in Great Sankey is open 12 noon – 4 pm


Details of this year’s events:

Cairo Street Chapel
4 Cairo Street,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA1 1ED

The earliest dissenting chapel in Warrington part of the 1662 ejection. Monuments to pupils of Warrington Academy and prominent families of the chapel including the Gaskells, Aitkins and Monks. Displays featuring the lives of Joseph Priestley who was ordained in the chapel. Anna Letitia Barbould 18th century poet and novelist, Rev Pearsall Phillip Carpenter agitator for social reform. Lectern in memory of John Howard Prison Reformer who attended Cairo Street on his many visits to Warrington. The burial grounds contains many graves including the grave of William and Elizabeth Gaskell’s son . Visitors can sit in the garden which is a quiet oasis in the town centre. A quiz based on the chapel and burial ground will be available for children and parents to complete. Visitors can take photographs, a booklet of the history of the chapel is available for £1.

Open Saturday 9th September 10 am – 4 pm
Open Sunday 10th September 12 noon – 4 pm (with lecture on prominent Unitarians at 3 pm)


Church of St John the Evangelist, Walton
Old Chester Road,
Higher Walton,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA4 6TF

The church was consecrated in 1885, having been built by Sir Gilbert Greenall, first Baronet, as part of the Walton Estate. It was designed by Paley Austin of Lancaster in a Gothic style and constructed in Cheshire sandstone. A central feature is the ornately carved reredos in the sanctuary. The organ, a 3 manual instrument built by Hill & Sons of London, is one of the finest in the area. There are many other beautiful features to view and to admire in this lovely church. The church is very close to Walton Hall and gardens and to the Bridgewater canal, so a visit will form part of a great day out.

Open Saturday 9th September 10 am – 4 pm


Hatton: A Century of Change
Hatton Arms
Hatton Lane,
Hatton,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA4 4DB

An evening stroll through Hatton to celebrate a century of change. One hundred years ago, Hatton had more than a dozen working farms and many residents worked on them and on Gilbert Greenall’s estate. Come and join us on a walk of about 1.5 hours, to find out about life in the village and how it has changed over the decades since.

Meet at the car park of the Hatton Arms Friday 8th September at 6 pm


Museum of Freemasonry
15 Winmarleigh Street,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA1 1NB

Featuring the Tercentenary Textiles Exhibition of Masonic banners, regalia and embroidery exhibitions. There will be guided tours (maximum 12 people) of the masonic rooms and museum and on the Saturday there will be two costumed Masonic timeline pageants 1717 – 1813. For families there will be face painting, a teddy bear hunt and activity sheets allowing visitors to design their own apron.

Open Saturday 9th September 10 am – 4 pm (with pageant at 11 am and 1 pm)
Open Sunday 10th September 10 am – 4 pm


Museum of Policing in Cheshire
Warrington Police Station,
Arpley Street,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA1 1LQ

Housed in the Victorian cells in Warrington Police Station the Museum of Policing collects, preserves and exhibits artefacts spanning the history of policing in the county since the force was founded in 1883. Items on display include a replica TARDIS-style police box, a CID custody office, a full size working police car, a Victorian cell with prisoner and custody officer, police uniforms and hats throughout the century and around the world, photographs, hand cuffs, truncheons, saber swords, police records, medals & plaques and much, much more.
On the day visitors can view a crime/forensic scene, see inside police cars & vans, hear the police band drum section, dress up in capes and helmets for photographs, solve the mystery of the missing prisoner, search constabulary family records, view books and souvenirs on sale and lots more!

Open Saturday 9th September 10 am – 4 pm


St Mary’s Church, Great Sankey
Liverpool Road,
Great Sankey,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA5 1RE

A historic grade II listed building there has been a place of worship on the site since 1640 although the current building dates from 1729. There has been a modern re-ordering in 2008, making it a fascinating mix between the old and new.

Open Thursday 7th September 10 am – 4 pm
Open Friday 8th September 10 am – 4 pm
Open Saturday 9th September 10 am – 4 pm
Open Sunday 10th September 12 noon – 4 pm


St Oswalds Church. Winwick
Golborne Road,
Winwick,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA2 8TA

The church building has been closed for some 7 years due to death-watch beetle in the ceilings; the building has been reordered and was reopened on the 2nd July 2017. Visitors will be able to look around the church; be shown around or wander by themselves. There is information to help and refreshments are on sale. Depending upon the weather, the tower will be open to visitors on Saturday 9th September. There is a children’s treasure hunt to solve clues in the church and land outside to play and picnic on. The Pugin Chancel is beautiful to see and prayerful to spend time in. There are memorials to the Legh and Gerard family and much more.

Open Friday 8th September 10 am – 3 pm
Open Saturday 9th September 10 am – 3 pm


Halliwell Jones Stadium
Winwick Road,
Warrington,
Cheshire WA2 7NE
An opportunity to look around various parts of the stadium not normally open to the public (maximum of 15 people per tour). See the heritage wall and talk with past players about their memories. Come on a stadium tour and see inside the archiving room etc. There is also a chance to purchase memorabilia – including programmes, shirts and pictures.

Open Saturday 9th September 9.30 am – 12.30 pm

INTERVIEW: Jimmy Carr shares inspiration for upcoming ‘Best Of’ shows at Parr Hall

This ‘Best Of’ tour is your 12th tour show. How have you continued being so prolific?

This one’s slightly different as obviously most of the jokes were already written – all I had to do was choose my favourites and then try and remember them! There’s no secret to being prolific in general though, really. Mostly it’s down to how I work. A lot of comedians build a show off one flash of inspiration. My process isn’t like that at all. For tours when I’m doing predominantly new material, I will have come up with about 1,000 jokes or so but only use about 250. The trick is to be writing constantly. Chuck Close once said “Inspiration is for amateurs, I just get to work” – could not agree more with that statement.

Why are you doing a Best Of show?

Well partly it’s because I wanted to see if it was possible, to see if you could do a stand-up show where you just played the hits like a gig from a classic band. I also remember seeing John Maloney at the Comedy Store 15 or 16 years ago, right when I started, and he came on stage and said “I’ll start with some jokes”. He did ten one-liners off the bat – boom, boom, boom, boom – and then told a longer story. I remember thinking I would like to do a show where it is just that, where you have that first opening salvo of bang, bang, bang and it never lets up. And that’s part of the reason to do this tour, the idea of just dropping bombs for two hours. One liner after one liner – all killer, no filler. Also I really love these jokes and, unlike a musician, I don’t get to perform them once the show’s finished touring. You just sort of put them away forever. That always struck me as kind of a shame.

Will the show be the same every night?

Hopefully not. Obviously there will be a lot of written stuff but I like to find a balance between the guaranteed laughs of jokes I’ve come up with in advance and the off-the-cuff stuff. I think on a good night it is 80/90% of jokes that I have written and am performing to the best of my abilities. But the best bits always involve the audience, the bits where I don’t know what’s going to happen or where it will lead. Why go and see a show live? Why not just watch it on Netflix? It’s because the funniest bits are always the things that happened in the room that night. You’ve got to have a show ready though, just in case the crowd is reluctant to get involved.

You often joke about supposedly taboo topics onstage. Why is that?

Comedy is all about building up tension and then releasing it. Talking about taboo topics is a fast way to build tension, and the more tension, the more laughs when you finally release it. I’d also say that one of my favourite sounds in the world is laughter turning into shock. I’m obsessed by cognitive dissonance – the idea that you can make people laugh and be disappointed in themselves for laughing at the same time. And as long as the laugh comes first, even if it’s half a second before, it’s fine. I like the idea that you don’t choose what you laugh at, it chooses you.

Is there anything you won’t joke about?
No.

That’s quite a frank answer. Why?

Well I feel like it’s all about the intention, the meaning behind it. My jokes are just that, jokes. There is no grand vision, no political or social message. If the joke is funny enough then the ends justify the means. Look, I say some horrific things in my act and, yes, if you take those things at face value then clearly they are unacceptable. But I think it’s pretty obvious that, in context, those subjects or ideas are merely vehicles for comedy, that they are designed to elicit laughter and nothing more. If I was using my shows to put forward a manifesto on how we should live our lives then maybe it would be a different story, but I’m not. I’m just trying to make you laugh.

Do you ever worry about offending people?

Not really. If you believe in free speech, you have to be prepared to hear things you don’t like – that’s kind of the deal. If you say someone is “offended”, what you’re really saying is that their feelings got hurt. That doesn’t put you in the right. If you’re not laughing, you’re well within your rights to just not listen. That’s absolutely fine.

You came to stand-up comparatively late at the age of 26. Why was that?

Well I just wanted to do something different, really. I had a very cushy job in marketing having worked very hard at university to get there. But I wasn’t satisfied. If I’d known that it was possible to work in television earlier, I would have probably wanted to be a producer or something. I didn’t know anyone in that world though, it wasn’t an option. So instead I decided to join the circus in my mid-twenties and do stand-up comedy instead.

You obviously combine doing stand-up with a lot of TV work these days. Which do you prefer?

It’s an odd one for me, they feel very distinct. Making television is collaborative – being the host is great because there’s a whole group of people working to make you look good. Live stand-up is very different. You’re on your own and that can be stressful. You’ve got more freedom though. With TV, even if it’s late night, you’re ultimately being beamed into people’s homes, sometimes uninvited. With a live gig, people have paid to see you. That allows you to push it that little bit more.

How do you feel about being famous?

I like it. I think comedy brings a nice shade of fame though, because you’re well-known but no one puts you on too much of a pedestal. It’s not like being another kind of performer, an actor or singer say, where people are perhaps more reverential of your talent. Everyone – or nearly everyone – has a sense of humour, so people just tend to try and make me laugh. What’s not to like?

Saturday 23 September 2017, 7pm & 10pm, £27.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Arts festival winners unveil prize exhibitions at town’s top galleries

Image of Bex Ilsley exhibit courtesy of Annie Feng

The winners of last year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open competitions have unveiled the exhibitions awarded as part of their first place prize.

28-year-old Bex Ilsley, who is based in Manchester, won the Art Open with Your Cities Will Shine Forever, a wall-mounted installation and virtual reality app viewed through a headset.

And Steve Deer, 55, a fine art photographer from Wirral who predominantly shoots powerful landscapes with a graphic narrative, won the Photography Open with a striking image entitled The Birds.

Emotional Processing, Bex’s first solo exhibition which is now in situ at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, features four new pieces representing a kind of re-entry into the physical world after living and working for so long in the virtual one.

Bex described her inspiration: “For so long, my online life has served as a refuge from a world that is crumbling into chaos around me.

“I sank into virtuality and what has returned is garish, hollow, commercialised, dismembered. And yet somehow it’s a loop, a circle, a return.

“It’s what I always was, more authentic now in its admission that it was never authentic at all; not in the real world, not in the ether.”

Bex Ilsley’s ‘How to Start Climbing’ and ‘Milkymoon’ in situ at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Bex is a contemporary artist best known for creating colourful images of her body and performance art, as well as her use of social media, particularly Instagram; her followers include Miley Cyrus and The Flaming Lips and her work is held in private collections around the world.

Her career has continued on an “upward trajectory” since the WCAF win a year ago, with highlights including a live performance piece at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea; a three-month creative residency with Make Liverpool; a showing in New York’s Times Square; and no less than 11 group shows, including one at Manchester’s Castlefield Gallery – a major goal achieved for Bex.

On a personal level Bex admitted it had been a tough 12 months but explained that she had in part drawn on her “internal responses to trauma and anxiety” to shape the work featured in Emotional Processing.

She added: “The first solo show is a milestone, it’s something I’ve fantasized about for a long time and it feels truly great to have one under my belt.

“It was completely new to me to plan and curate something without having to think about how my work could sit alongside the work of others.

“If anything, this made it more of a challenge for me but one I enjoyed immensely. I’m proud of it, it’s an achievement, and I think it looks good!”

Steve is also enjoying his first solo exhibition with A New Perspective: Observations in the Landscape, which features 33 prints at The Gallery in Bank Quay House, Warrington.

While capturing simplicity, mood and depth, his striking photography explores social documentary, sports action, candid street scenes and plenty of water.

Steve Deer’s ‘Carcass’

Steve’s other accolades include winner of Wirral Festival of Firsts Photography Competition 2014, a Photo Democracy Fine Art Photographer of the Year 2013 win, and a ‘commended’ in the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2013 competition exhibited at The National Theatre, London.

An art director for an advertising agency, Steve admitted preparation for the exhibition was hard work but he was proud of the results.

“I do like to capture landscapes and my images tend to be quite minimalist and moody; I try to look at things differently.

“I would consider myself an artist who happens to work with a camera, rather than a photographer.”

Moving between classic and contemporary photography, the works on show have been shot with a combination of digital cameras, and Steve admitted a lot of his newer work is shot on a mobile phone rather than more complicated kit.

“Anyone can be a photographer these days with the phone capabilities and editing apps which are available,” he added, “and it’s amazing what you can do with them.

“But for me it’s about understanding what turns a good picture into a piece of art; that’s the skill.”

Derek Dick, cultural manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which organises WCAF, said he was impressed by the high standard of work Bex and Steve had produced for their exhibitions.

“They have proved themselves more than worthy winners of last year’s Open competition,” he said, “and I wish them every success for the future.

“One of our aims at Culture Warrington is to provide opportunities and support for emerging artists in the region and I hope that Bex and Steve’s first solo exhibitions lead to many more in the future.”

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival launches on Friday 29 September and runs alongside Warrington Festival, which celebrates the arts, food, sport and heritage in the town, and is part of a wider calendar of events held across Cheshire in association with Slant, the county’s cultural destination programme.

 

Listings information:

Exhibition title: Bex Ilsley: Emotional Processing

Dates: Until Saturday 28 October

Admission: Free

Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

 

Exhibition title: A New Perspective: Observations in the Landscape by Steve Deer

Dates: Until 25 September

Admission: Free

The Gallery at Bank Quay House, Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1NN

http://www.pythonproperties.co.uk/galleries/gallery-at-bank-quay

Culture charity staff to run 10K to raise money for arts activities

Staff from Culture Warrington will take part in this year’s English Half Marathon and 10K race to raise vital funds for the charity.

Culture Warrington, which runs three key cultural venues in the town – Parr Hall, Pyramid and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery – was established as a charity in 2012 to support arts, heritage and events across the borough.

Since then, it has been working hard to make culture and the arts accessible to a wide range of people in the town.

Eight staff from Culture Warrington and its sister-company, LiveWire, will take part in either the half marathon or 10K race on 17 September, including the charity’s managing director, Emma Hutchinson.

They’re hoping to raise a total of £1,400 to invest in two transportable art carts to enable them to deliver craft activities in various communities.

Andrea Morley, fundraising and sponsorship officer at Culture Warrington, said: “We desperately need to purchase these art carts in order to open up our craft sessions to more people.

“We currently run weekly sessions at the museum but due to these activities being free, they are oversubscribed.

“The carts would provide a one-stop-shop for art activities to be delivered anywhere for free – supporting families and children in the town who enjoy these activities.”

The race will start outside Pyramid arts centre on Winmarleigh Street, lapping around the Halliwell Jones Stadium and Victoria Park before making its way back to the iconic Golden Gates outside the town hall.

To donate to Culture Warrington, please visit https://mydonate.bt.com/events/culturewarringtonrunsehm/445490#.WX9dOUurYhw.email

Two Warrington shows from top comic Jimmy Carr now just a month away

Top comedian Jimmy Carr’s two performances at Parr Hall are now just a month away and tickets are running out fast.

There are only a handful of tickets left for the 7pm performance at the Warrington venue on Saturday 23 September and the 10pm slot is filling up fast. 

The stand-up comic, TV star and all-round entertainer is returning with a selection of his very best jokes and brand new material in this ‘Best of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour’.

A man who has devoted his life to crafting perfect jokes and has left a trail of laughter in his wake, Jimmy Carr’s new show promises to distil everything we love to laugh at and be shocked by into one incredible, unparalleled night of entertainment.

In short, it promises to be the ultimate comedy show.

Jimmy Carr has been on the stand-up scene for a decade and a half, and in that time he’s performed nine sell-out tours, playing nearly 2,000 shows to over 2 million people across four continents.

He’s won the British Comedy Award for Best Live Stand-Up Tour and been nominated for the Perrier Award.

Now, all that experience is being put to good use with the greatest material from his extraordinary career brought together in one show.

This is the very best of Jimmy Carr.

Saturday 23 September 2017, 7pm & 10pm, £27.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

Sir Ken Dodd returns to Parr Hall with his famous Happiness Show

The nation’s favourite comedian Ken Dodd, recently made Sir Ken Dodd, is bringing his Happiness Show to Warrington again next year.

The 89-year-old’s incredible and hugely-successful career as a professional entertainer now spans more than 60 fun-filled years and he’s decided it’s high time he revisited Parr Hall.

Ken is a comedian of unrivalled legendary status, an icon and national treasure, who has been entertaining audiences for a lifetime of happiness and laughter.

And that dedication was rewarded with a knighthood earlier this year in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

Anyone who comes along to enjoy his famous Happiness Show will be absolutely discumknockerated (Knotty Ash for over the moon) by a truly tattifelarius (fun-filled) evening of laughter and songs.

With a supporting company, non-stop gags and a selection of songs presented in his uniquely versatile style, there’ll be everything from ballads to grand opera.

The comedian is a multi-award winning entertainer who loves nothing more than performing for theatre audiences, so don’t miss his fun-filled Happiness Show; it promises to be a great night out for all the family.

Saturday 27 January 2018, 7pm, £22.50, Parr Hall

But tickets here

Trio of leading artists unveil A Strange Reality at Warrington gallery

Three experienced artists have collaborated to create an impressive exhibition which explores A Strange Reality at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

The exhibition, featuring more than 30 canvases including several large scale works, launched on Saturday with an informal talk by the artists – John Elcock, Josie Jenkins and Paul Mellor – and runs until Saturday 16 September.

A Strange Reality sees each of these leading artists express a distinct and individual style, while sharing a common interest in exploring the exciting possibilities of paint and the enduring importance of the landscape tradition.

The paintings on display examine the sublime, memory, recollection and ambiguity, and include references to art history, cinema, urban decay and isolated landscapes.

Speaking on behalf of the artists, Josie said: “There are concurrent themes running through the work that we selected for the exhibition.

“We are all using a landscape setting but the paintings are in many cases about humanity: human thought, emotion, behaviour and psychology.

“We wanted to show how landscape can be used to explore the strange reality of the world around us.”

An award-winning artist, Josie is originally from the East Riding of Yorkshire but is now based in Liverpool.

Using landscape or outdoor space as a subject matter, Josie depicts the physical evidence of human behaviour.

She is interested in making work which brings about the emotion of wonder, either due to its subject matter or through the construction of the artwork.

John Elcock is a visual artist with an interest in landscape and symbolism. His paintings respond to objects or locations with a unique sense of place, whether expressed in their light, geology, sheer remoteness or birdlife.

It is a response, he argues, that is a continuation of the classical landscape tradition in its attempt to reveal something of the sublime in the world around us.

Paul Mellor’s work considers themes of isolation, melancholy, history, memory, loss, allegory and mortality, and displays faith in the continuing relevance of painting in a digital age.

A recurring concern of his work is to open a dialogue that seeks to interpret a psychological space that is more representative of a state of mind than any specific place.

Roger Jeffery, exhibitions and interpretation officer for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “This is a really engaging display which shows how relevant landscape painting still is.

“The three artists’ use of landscape to explore the human world is intriguing and provides a fascinating context to the striking work exhibited.”

Listings information

Exhibition title: A Strange Reality

Dates: Until Saturday 16 September

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Much-loved historian celebrates 40 years of working at Warrington Museum

Left to right: Culture Warrington’s managing director Emma Hutchinson, visitor services officer Mike Roberts, heritage manager Janice Hayes with her anniversary gift, and chair of the board Maureen Banner

One of Warrington’s biggest ambassador is celebrating 40 years of working at the town’s museum.

Janice Hayes started her career at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery in August 1977 as a museum education officer, following earlier roles teaching history and English in secondary schools.

Since then, she has undertaken almost every role in the museum, from curating exhibitions to expanding the photographic collections and working with the archives.

Along the way she has acquired a wealth of knowledge, which has enabled her to publish a series of successful books about Warrington’s history – her latest book, Warrington at Work, is due for publication in September.

Janice has been at the forefront of many firsts in Warrington culture, including the development of a number of history groups across the town for individual communities to find out about their past; bringing more than £1 million pounds in funding for the museum to refurbish its existing galleries and develop new ones; and being involved in Warrington’s Walking Day film.

She helped to make Warrington’s Rugby League World Cup bid very different to many other towns’. Because of her unique knowledge and passion for Warrington, the event was a celebration of the town’s culture and heritage as much as its proud rugby league legacy.

As part of the Rugby League World Cup celebrations, she organised a ceremony for the repatriation of a Maori head at the museum to its homeland – ensuring the celebration was moving and meaningful for all.

She has also brought depth and knowledge to some of Warrington’s biggest events and projects, including the celebrations for the Jubilee Year, World War One commemorations and the cultural input into the new Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub.

Emma Hutchinson, managing director of Culture Warrington, said: “Janice has given her heart and soul to many projects which have really put Warrington on the map.

“She has so much pride for her home town and channels this into her work at the museum.

“I’m sure all of her colleagues who have got to know her over the last 40 years would agree that she’s a pleasure to work with.

“I’d like to thank Janice for her dedication and contribution over the years. She’s made a huge difference to the town and its museum.”

Although Janice took flexible retirement in 2016, she’s still working for Culture Warrington, who run the museum, in the role of Heritage Manager.

Over the next few years, she will lead her biggest project to date – the development of a multi-million pound heritage facility in the existing museum and library building.

Janice added: “It’s been a privilege to have the opportunity to explore the fantastic collections in Warrington’s museum and to serve as only the eighth head of service in its history.

“I’m really looking forward to being part of a series of celebrations in 2017 for the 140th anniversary of the art gallery and for the 170th anniversary of the creation of the museum and library in 2018.”

Enjoy the time of your life with ultimate tribute to Dirty Dancing at Parr Hall

No film has captured the hearts of a generation like Dirty Dancing and now there’s a chance to relive the excitement as a top quality tribute show travels to Warrington.

A Night of Dirty Dancing is the ultimate tribute to the original film which saw an entire generation fall in love with Patrick Swayze and long to be Jennifer Grey.

The Parr Hall performance on Sunday 17 September is a chance to relive the passion, indulge in the romance and celebrate the greatest movie soundtrack of all time.

Recast and re-scripted for 2017, it’s all down to Kellerman’s end of season show: revel in the cherished moments, the memories made and the music that resonated throughout the years in this timeless theatrical treat.

Expect to hear She’s Like the WindBig Girls Don’t CryHey BabyWipeoutDo You Love MeBe My BabyHungry Eyes and of course, the Academy Award-winning (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life in the ultimate coming of age romance.

Sunday 17 September 2017, 7.30pm, £24/£22, Parr Hall

Buy tickets here

No. 1 tribute band The Doors Alive bring sounds of the 60s to town

The Doors Alive, the No. 1 tribute band to legendary rockers The Doors, are bringing the psychedelic sounds of the 60s to town with a performance at Pyramid next month.

The band perfectly and effortlessly re-create the sound, look, presence and feel of a real 1960s Doors concert, transporting the crowd back in time.

In their homage to the Californian rockers they will play classic hits such as Light My FireWhen the Music’s OverRiders on the StormThe End and more when they visit Warrington on Saturday 16 September.

The singer, Willie, captures the attitude, look and voice of the late, great Jim Morrison, and the rest of the band have honed the other members’ playing styles immaculately.

To achieve that authentic 60s sound, the band use the very same instruments that members of The Doors used, including a vintage Fender Rhodes Bass keyboard, a vintage Vox Continental keyboard and a vintage Gibson SG guitar.

For true The Doors fans this really is a show not to be missed.

Saturday 16 September 2017, 7.30pm, £14 advance/£17 on the door, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

The Houghton Weavers keep folk smiling with Pyramid show

The Houghton Weavers have been entertaining for more than 40 years with their unique blend of popular folk music, humour and audience participation.

During their time together as a group – comprising Tony Berry, David Littler and Steve Millington – they have performed thousands of concerts, recorded more than 30 albums, starred in several of their own highly successful BBC radio and TV series, and made countless appearances on other programmes.

Their next outing is a tour which aims to “keep folk smiling”, taking in a date at Warrington’s Pyramid arts centre on Friday 15 December.

The Houghton Weavers guarantee a top quality show suitable for all the family honed to perfection over four decades in the business which, combined with their individual style and professionalism, adds up to a wonderful night of entertainment.

Friday 15 December 2017, 7.30pm, £14, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

Warrington musician with international reputation announces home town gig

Internationally renowned Warrington-born musician Peter Price has announced a home town performance this December.

The singer and guitarist will be returning to Pyramid with another top quality show on Friday 1 December and tickets are on sale now.

Peter has a brilliant international reputation, having played festivals and concerts across the UK, Europe and North America.

His audiences are taken on strange and exotic journeys, from the folk and country blues style of Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and Lead Belly, to jazz, Latin and world music.

A gifted artist, Peter’s performances demonstrate a mind-boggling mastery of the acoustic guitar, a rich singing voice and a relaxed yet compelling stage presence.

For this show he will also be joined on stage by some very special guests, guaranteeing an evening not to be missed.

The Guardian described him as “an acoustic blues virtuoso” and leading acoustic blues singer-songwriter Eric Bibb said Peter was “one of those wonderful British guitarists… a great musician.”

Friday 1 December 2017, 7.30pm, £15, Pyramid

Buy tickets here

 

Fascinating town brewery exhibition also offers support for addiction and misuse

A fascinating exhibition on Warrington’s brewing history also offers support and inspiration for those living with alcohol addiction.

Beer, Breweries and the Band of Hope, on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery until Saturday 2 September, provides a fascinating look back at one of the oldest trades in existence – by the Middle Ages every town including Warrington was home to brewers working on a commercial scale.

This display commemorates the 150th anniversary of one of the region’s most prolific breweries, Burtonwood Brewery, as well as focussing on the local Temperance movement which grew in response to the number of breweries in the town.

Craig Sherwood, collections officer for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs the museum, said: “Before the 19th century many believed alcohol was essential to life and wellbeing; it was also safer to drink beer as most town water supplies were heavily polluted – even children would drink the occasional beer.

“But concerns over drunkenness and rowdy behaviour which could develop from excessive drinking led some to advocate abstinence, believing alcohol was responsible for society’s ills and that reform was needed.”

Safe drinking limits are explored, with information available from charities and organisations such as Pathways to Recovery which supports people with alcohol-related problems.

The display also features present day testimonies from people who have struggled with alcohol addiction and are now accessing support through projects such as Warrington Borough Council’s Creative Remedies, a social prescribing scheme which supports people with a variety of needs through activities including art, photography and music.

A documentary on The Recoverists, a group of local musicians and artists who have battled addiction and recovery by coming together to perform, explores the impact of alcohol on musicians.

Craig added: “The Recoverists are promoting the positive impact which musical creativity can have on people who have battled addiction.

“We at Culture Warrington are privileged to present this documentary as part of Beer, Breweries and the Band of Hope and I’d like to say a big thankyou to those who shared their stories for the sake of this display.

“Credit also goes to Pathways and its partners for their support in this project and the amazing services they provide for people in recovery.”

Listings information

Exhibition title: Beer, Breweries and the Band of Hope

Dates: Until Saturday 2 September

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

 

Artists and photographers invited to enter Warrington’s annual contemporary arts competition

Bex Ilsley’s ‘Your Cities Will Shine Forever’

Artists and photographers are being invited to enter this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open exhibition competitions.

Members of the public living or working within a 50-mile radius of the town can now submit up to three works online before the deadline of Sunday 27 August, with the chance to win a cash prize and a solo exhibition in 2018.

Now in its seventh year, the month-long festival provides an opportunity for people to experience contemporary art, and the 2017 programme promises to be packed full of engaging events including the flagship Art and Photography Open competitions.

Both Open exhibitions will run throughout the festival from Friday 29 September to Saturday 28 October at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and The Gallery at Bank Quay House; the first prize in both categories is £250 plus a solo exhibition in 2018, while second prize is £100.

Derek Dick, cultural manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which organises WCAF, encouraged amateur and aspiring artists to enter alongside more experienced professionals.

He said: “One of our aims at Culture Warrington is to provide opportunities and support for emerging artists in the region and entering WCAF’s Open competitions can be a great springboard to future success.

“By entering the Art or Photography Open artists can see their work displayed in professional exhibition galleries alongside their peers and it’s an opportunity for us to showcase the wealth of artistic talent in and around Warrington.

“It’s very exciting and encouraging to see the work submitted each year as the entries are always of a high standard.

“This year’s Opens are part of a larger programme of activities and events which will take place over the next twelve months; with support from Arts Council England we will be creating even more opportunities with a series of commissions and town centre events.”

The winner of last year’s Art Open was Bex Ilsley with Your Cities Will Shine Forever, a wall-mounted installation and virtual reality app viewed through a headset. The piece was a self-portrait which also explored the predicament of living between the physical and virtual.

Bex is now enjoying her first solo exhibition, entitled Emotional Processing, at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, her followers include Miley Cyrus and The Flaming Lips, and her works are held in private collections around the world.

Speaking after her win, Bex said: “This type of opportunity is vital for artists at the beginning of their careers and I am beyond grateful because funding and awards are the only way I have to continue practicing at this stage.”

Steve Deer’s ‘The Birds’

Steve Deer, winner of last year’s Photography Open, currently has a collection on display in The Gallery at Bank Quay house.

The fine art photographer, who shoots powerful landscapes with a graphic narrative, was delighted to have won after coming second the previous year.

David Foster, winner of the 2012 Open, said: “Winning literally changed my life – from being a dabbling amateur artist experimenting in a new style of contemporary art to now being a full-time professional artist with sales worldwide, corporate clients and a waiting list for commissions.

“I would encourage any budding artist to enter; the prize of being able to hold your own exhibition is immense and could be life-changing for you too.”

2013 winner Carol Miller added: “Winning the Open planted a seed of belief which has sustained my practice and given me self-assurance in my work; I’ve carried that with me ever since.

“By entering you are demonstrating you have the belief that you’re good enough to stand and be judged beside your peers, and you never know what that can lead to.”

Visit www.warringtonartsfestival.co.uk for more information or to submit an entry before the deadline on Sunday 27 August. Entry forms are also available from Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

Rock royalty Black Star Riders to visit Parr Hall with team of special guests

Rock royalty Black Star Riders will be calling in to Parr Hall in November as part of a tour to celebrate the release of their third studio album Heavy Fire.

Formed in 2012 and taking inspiration for their name from a gang of outlaws in the 1993 western film Tombstone, Black Star Riders (BSR) are a band of impressive pedigree.

Featuring lead guitarists Scott Gorham (formerly of Thin Lizzy) and Damon Johnson (Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper), lead vocalist/guitarist Ricky Warwick (Thin Lizzy, The Almighty), bassist Robert Crane (Vince Neil, Ratt) and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth), BSR are now in their fifth year with three albums under their belt.

February 2017 saw Black Star Riders release their third studio album Heavy Fire to widespread critical acclaim.

The record went on to gain worldwide chart success, reaching No 1 in the UK rock and indie charts, No 3 in the UK vinyl chart and No 6 in the UK national chart, as well as enjoying success in Germany and USA.

The band are due to share their colossal talent with the Warrington audience on Friday 10 November as part of the Coming Under Heavy Fire tour with support from special guests Blues Pills, Tax the Heat and Dirty Thrills.

Ricky Warwick, from Black Star Riders, said: “There’s nothing more exciting than playing live. BSR are absolutely thrilled to get back out in the UK, it’s a wonderful way to round out a great year.”

Formed in 2011 the multinational quartet Blues Pills released their exciting self-titled debut in 2014 before following up with their sophomore release Lady in Gold in 2016.

They’ve toured non-stop for the past few years playing with the likes of Deep Purple, Rival Sons and Kadavar as well as headline shows; their organic blend of blues, classic rock and soul wins audiences the world over.

Zack Anderson, from Blues Pills, said: “We are really excited to warm up the stage for these legends. We hope to see a lot of familiar faces in front of the stage and are really looking forward to meeting a lot of new people.”

Tax the Heat have just come out of the studio where they’ve been recording their follow up to the critically acclaimed debut album Fed to the Lions; the highly-anticipated, as yet unnamed, second album is scheduled for release by Nuclear Blast Entertainment in early 2018.

London-based Dirty Thrills will open the bill with a set containing songs from their debut album Heavy Living, due to come out in September.

Friday 10 November 2017, 6.45pm, £28 advance, Parr Hall

Buy tickets now

TV presenter and ex-elite forces soldier Ant Middleton to share daring exploits with Warrington audience

Adventurer, survival expert, TV presenter and ex-elite forces soldier Ant Middleton will be sharing his amazing experiences on a new tour, which visits Warrington next year.

As seen on Channel 4 programmes SAS: Who Dares Wins, Mutiny and Escape, Ant’s appetite for adventure and extremes has no limit, and it’s led him to take on some amazing challenges both in the military and in his TV roles.

He will be sharing his experiences and exploits as a modern day explorer and expedition leader on a new UK tour, An Evening with Ant Middleton, which visits Parr Hall on Thursday 15 March next year.

In this adventure-filled one-man show, Ant recounts his extraordinary life in the military, having achieved the elite forces “holy trinity” by serving in the Parachute Regiment, Royal Marines and SBS, the UK’s naval special forces unit.

Expect tales which defy belief for their sheer bravery and danger, behind the scenes moments, revelations and gossip from his TV shows, and an exclusive insight into his life and exciting future TV projects.

Ant Middleton’s third series of SAS: Who Dares Wins and new programme Escape will air in the autumn this year and spring 2018.

Thursday 15 March 2018, 7.30pm, £22.50/£17.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets now

Almost 200 memories received for display in dementia-friendly facility

Dreamland circa 1951

An appeal to the people of Warrington to share their old photos and stories to feature in a new health and wellbeing facility has generated almost 200 responses.

Culture Warrington’s archives team has received 193 new pieces to add to their collections, including photographs, newspaper clippings and letters.

Some of the memories will be displayed in Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub, one of the region’s first dementia-friendly facilities, when it opens to the public this winter.

Philip Jeffs, archives and heritage officer at Culture Warrington, said: “The items we have received paint a fantastic picture of the development of west Warrington between the 1860s and 1980s.

“Among the images and memories gathered, we have obtained a great set of colour postcards showing ‘Dreamland’, a minute model village built outside Mr Monks’ shop and bungalow on Liverpool Road in Great Sankey, now gone but fondly remembered by generations of local children.

George’s Cafe

“We’ve also been able to capture memories and photographs of the Burtonwood Peace Camp from 1982 and many shops and cafes in the area which no longer exist.

“The project has also allowed us to add new details to many of the images of west Warrington already in our collections. This was done through a combination of research in the archives and talking to local people.”

The new hub, to be run by LiveWire, will provide health and wellbeing facilities for residents living in the area, which has Warrington’s fastest ageing population.

The charity has received a grant from Arts Council England to work with the community on a display of memorable pictures and pieces of art which it is hoped will assist with navigation.

A team of volunteers has been trained to record peoples’ memories and residents are being asked to come forward to have their memories recorded digitally to add to the museum’s collections.

Banner and three generations

Philip added: “It doesn’t matter if you were born in 1932 or 1982 or if you want to talk about major events like the Second World War or just memories of your own home while you were growing up – we want more memories.

“Any memories are welcome but we would love to hear about changes in the area, whether that be the arrival of the Americans during World War Two or the building of new housing estates in the 1970s.”

To get involved please contact Philip Jeffs, archives and heritage officer at Culture Warrington by writing to him at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Central Library & Museum, Cultural Quarter, Warrington, WA1 1JB, calling 01925 443023 or emailing pjeffs@culturewarrington.org

Artist interview: Bex Ilsley

Emotional Processing – Image: Bex Ilsley

Lydia Prescott talks to artist Bex Ilsley, winner of last year’s Warrington Contemporary Open about her new exhibition. ‘Emotional Processing‘ is on show at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery from 29 July – 28 October 2017.

How did you become interested in digital art? Is digital art your preferred medium to work with?

I started to think about digital art because I was already making it. Using my Instagram account to post pictures of what I was working on at university seemed like a no-brainer – I was enjoying it and I noticed that I wanted to show it off. After upload, the online images of my older paintings and sculptures seemed to become works in their own right, parts of a continuous feed. My posts became more popular, I felt more self-conscious and I saw that reflected in the level of polish and effort I began to put into what I was sharing. Others began to repost my images or re-use them as part of digital collages and memes. I saw how much of a journey away from the original physical object that was and I read a little theory about that, ultimately deciding to put my own body through the same journey of flattening and commodification. I like working in many different ways and wouldn’t necessarily say I prefer to work digitally over anything else. The boring, truthful answer is that is has reach, it’s relevant and it’s useful because it isn’t as expensive to make web-based art as it is to make sculptures.

Your work often explores the difference between physical reality and digital constructs that we experience in modern life, how do you think this difference affects our mental health?

I can only speak for myself, and so of course it’s anecdotal, but I’ve experienced both my happiest days and my worst ones through the maintenance of a virtual ‘persona’ (though I don’t really see the figure as separate to myself). At its best, social media has connected me to unprecedented opportunities – my most successful collaborations and most important connections. The links I made through Instagram have taken me places from The Flaming Lips’ tour bus to Grand Rapids, Michigan for transatlantic collaborative projects. If you tell people through images that you’re a hardworking interesting person, they might just believe you and sometimes magic happens.

Of course, it’s very difficult to maintain that momentum, I established myself as a kind of branded artist, with a certain aesthetic language which couldn’t then grow or change easily. So you stay the same, interest begins to slip, as it always does, and it can feel like a personal failing. I have definitely become preoccupied with this mediated, imitative part of my existence to the detriment of other important aspects of my life.

Coming out of university was hard for me, I’ve been depressed, and needing time to find my feet again felt like slacking in comparison to others I knew who were busy in the studio or travelling the world. I am definitely guilty of comparing myself to these ‘highlight reels’ – my friends’ ‘best selves’ and I have felt inadequate and miserable. I’ve fallen into a trap of thinking far too much about what kind of image I was putting across, even when I knew that semi-ironic mocking self-branding was what I had sought to do in the first place. I told myself that ‘@bexilsley’ was a person who says ‘yes’, so I was doing things I wasn’t even sure I was comfortable with to sustain that appearance. I began to measure my success by my follower count. I have scrolled and scrolled in bouts of total self-loathing. Even knowing what I was participating in, I still let the downsides consume me.

Do you think that attitudes towards our digital image are sustainable alongside our offline lives?

Like anything, heightened connectivity can work for us or against us. It’s important to remember and to teach that this is media, not truth, that there are many types of success. Knowing when you need to disconnect is vital.

Many of your works contain relatively sexualised images of the female form; do you consider yourself to be a feminist? How do you think the concept of gender equality is perceived and represented on social media?

I do consider myself a feminist but I don’t think I’m a very good one in practice. I find it hard to follow my own advice. I can understand why, to some, I don’t necessarily look like much of a feminist when I’m naked on my back wearing hair extensions and false eyelashes. Of course, feminists don’t ‘look like’ any one thing, but I’ve really struggled with how I approach representation because I’m very much aware of where my body stands on a spectrum of bodies, where I benefit from and where I lose out to structures of power, standards of beauty, and so on. I don’t feel qualified to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. I would put myself far down the list of artists who have insightful feminist messages to put across.

That said, it’s an important lens to view any artwork through. So, thinking about self-branding led me to explore ideas along the lines of Ann Hirsch’s assertion that “Whenever you put your body online, in some way you are in conversation with porn”. I felt so looked-at and the way I watched myself inside my own head changed. It became more voyeuristic. What value does the flattened image of my body have to consumers? As an awkward teen who really struggled with body image, I had never dared to see myself as sexually desirable or attractive. I felt this was completely off limits – something for skinny girls, for tanned girls, for girls with nicer hair and better bodies. So, doing that felt like… wobbly irony. Joking-not-joking. It’s definitely problematic to say ‘oh, thank god I can use Photoshop and the guise of Art to feel sexy!’ I can use the unreal, a confident, transcendent vision of myself which wins against all criticism and self-doubt. I’m malleable, I can distort the image instantly, so it doesn’t matter if the goalposts keep moving. It’s not a noble thing to aspire to; to finally fall in line with something that damages people. I don’t mind being problematic sometimes; it tends to open up good debate.

In your artist statement you use the phrase “’performative existence’ or ‘voluntary objecthood’” when describing attitudes and behaviours on social media. How does the virtual world affect our view on reality?

‘Performative existence’ and ‘voluntary objecthood’ are not synonymous with or confined to the limits of the virtual self. I don’t equate the virtual with fakery or the physical with authenticity. It’s blurrier than that – all of it is jumbled somewhere in the middle. I perform ‘Bex’ the entire time I’m alive. Social media is a platform for inauthentic representations of experience, but so is any kind of media. So is ‘dressing for the job you want’. So is small-talk – saying ’fine thanks!’ when really, you kind of want to die. Perception management is everywhere. Adam Curtis would agree that we live in an entirely simulated, simplified world. Perhaps debates about authenticity are useless now.

It’s about living one step removed from myself as I interact, self-consciously watching myself, judging how I’m doing – the voyeur in my head. Even now, responding to these questions, I’m writing as the part of me that wants you to take me seriously as an artist, writing as the part of me that hopes I don’t sound stupid. That feels just as much like performing as posting my best selfie does. I no longer trust in my ability to be authentic. My sense of self is wobbly at best. There’s a sense of being observed, of playing a part, even when I’m alone. Maybe it’s paradoxically more honest to say ‘here’s a mask’, to be upfront about it. This thinking is heightened by maintaining an image on social media but social media is not its sole cause.

Your exhibition at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery is called Emotional Processing, how do you interpret this title?

I find titles hard and I’ve come to accept the fact that every single one I come up with is going to be cheesy and gimmicky, and that’s okay. ‘Emotional Processing’ refers to processing as a computing term, so a nod to what I’ve spoken about here – our lives as data, the mediation of intimacy, vulnerability within a superficial feedback loop. It also refers to the terrible year I’ve had, to depression, to losing sight of myself and feeling helpless, watching my internal responses to trauma and anxiety. My own neurological processes have been trying to make sense of the state of things while my phone stays stuck to my hand, uploading my latest thinly veiled cry for help, spilling my feelings into the ether as data and hoping something inside that realm might save me from myself. Two concurrent emotional processes.

Many of your previous works are in the digital format only, what effects do you hope to create by combining sculpture and digital art in this exhibition?

The objects I’ve chosen to put together are questions more than they are answers. They bring together elements of leisure, exercise and furniture design, which can be a nod to a sort of plastic, playful version of the performed ‘aspirational lifestyle’. I aim to reference commodification, commercial colour palettes, screens and mirrors, self-conscious looking, manufactured body parts – fragmented, perfected, thing-like, isolated from the whole. It’s the body torn up and mangled by all of the above. Alongside that, I use looped video and circles because this search for personhood feels, to me, circular. I have tried to define myself both within and outside these virtual stages and it has never felt like a liberating, linear journey. There is no A to B, no transformation, nothing to be found. I’m wary of the idea of ‘progress’ because ‘progress’ never benefits every person neatly. Maybe it’s something like taking comfort in ideas like eternal return and amor fati – at least that takes the pressure off me while I’m figuring out what it means. The world is very strange; I feel a sense of powerlessness against what seems like a constant tide of lunacy, destruction and fear. So the loop is ‘stuck-ness’ too.

Your sculptures feature several items associated with children including a trampoline and a sand pit, what made you include them in your work?

I think the use of childhood references and some of the playfulness in these new pieces to speak of the temptation of regression and a blurred sense of time and identity on a personal level, as well as a responsibility towards the effect technological progress and reality-simulation may have on future generations. What parts of us are new, and what parts have always been? What’s inevitable and what should we take responsibility for? Which cycles can be broken?

LiveWire and Culture Warrington hold ‘thank you’ event for their volunteers

Volunteers at LiveWire and Culture Warrington have been thanked for their support at a coffee morning.

The event, which was held at Woolston Neighbourhood Hub, provided an opportunity for volunteers across both organisations to meet one another and find out about each other’s roles.

The ‘thank you’ event was hosted 12 months on from when the organisations revamped their existing volunteer schemes, and identified lots of new opportunities for people to get involved with leisure, library, health, and cultural activities in the town.

Culture Warrington gives those interested in arts, entertainment, or heritage the opportunity to work across a variety of departments.

Meanwhile, LiveWire offers volunteers the chance to get involved with sports engagement, community wellbeing, and library activities.

Wendy Molyneux, volunteer coordinator at LiveWire and Culture Warrington, said: “We value the support and dedication of all our volunteers.

“Whether it’s inspiring young people and families to get physically active as an Active LiveWire Ambassador, providing access to reading for people in their own homes, welcoming people to events as a Venue Management Assistant, or giving up their time for one of the other many volunteering roles we offer, each and every one of them helps to make a real difference”.

If you would like meet new people, learn new skills, develop your confidence, or share your experience – find out how you can become a volunteer for LiveWire or Culture Warrington by visiting www.livewirewarrington.co.uk/volunteering or www.culturewarrington.org/volunteering

NHS in Warrington – share your memories

Staff at Orthopaedic Department (Warrington Infirmary)

On July 5th 2018 the National Health Service will be 70 years old. Initially instigated by the Beveridge Report in 1942 which argued for a universally accessible health care service that provided the public with social security ‘from cradle to grave’, it was an ambitious idea which aimed to make healthcare available to all based on need rather than the ability to pay. The NHS has changed life in Britain forever. It is one of the largest employers, with approximately 5% of the people employed in Britain working for the NHS. For the first time, it brought hospitals, doctors, opticians and dentists together under an umbrella organisation.

In March 2018, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery will be opening a new and exciting exhibition to celebrate this milestone and we would like to feature the memories and stories of anyone locally who may have worked for the organisation or used this service. As well as recording your memories we would also be interested in having a look at any objects that you might have relating to the life of the NHS. Do you have a pair of NHS glasses or some old uniform?

If you’d like to share your experiences of the NHS in Warrington over the last 70 years with us, you can do so by emailing x-hwhite@culturewarrington.org or Tel: 01925 442015. Alternatively, you might like to post something on our Facebook page or Tweet us! @warringtonmus #WarringtonNHS70.

Borough operating theatre 1950s

80s soul/RnB music legend Alexander O’Neal to grace Parr Hall stage

The music legend that is Alexander O’Neal is to grace the stage of Warrington’s Parr Hall this November.

Alexander is reputedly the best pure singer to come from the 1980s soul/RnB era, when he released a string of memorable hits which are still broadcast as radio requests and played at thousands of events around the world.

His most popular tracks include Fake, Criticize, If You Were Here Tonight, Saturday Love, Never Knew Love like This, Sunshine, Secret Lovers and many more, and his album Hearsay sold nearly a million copies in the UK alone.

To this day he still holds the record as the only performer to sell out for six consecutive nights at London’s Wembley Arena.

This soul man still has an undying passion to perform and his live shows reflect that, so come and join the party for an evening not to be forgotten.

Tuesday 7 November 2017, 7:30pm, Parr Hall, £30

Buy tickets now

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Turn back the clock with 80s band Johnny Hates Jazz at Parr Hall

Iconic 80s band Johnny Hates Jazz will be visiting Parr Hall in December as part of a new tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of hit album Turn Back the Clock.

The duo will be performing their acclaimed debut album in its entirety to celebrate 30 years since its release on a full UK tour this December, with a visit to Warrington on 5 December.

In 1987, as the era of electronic pop and New Romanticism was reaching its culmination, Anglo-American group Johnny Hates Jazz, featuring Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito, were catapulted to success with the release of their single Shattered Dreams.

It became a Top 5 hit worldwide, reaching No.2 in the USA and Japan, and has since been played over 3.5 million times on American radio alone.

It was followed by other hits including the anti-war anthem I Don’t Want to be a Hero, Turn Back the Clock featuring Kim Wilde and Heart of Gold.

Their debut album entered the UK charts at No.1, going double-platinum and selling 4 million copies in the process; it is arguably one of the definitive albums of the 1980s and is one of only two debut albums released by Virgin Records that immediately went to the top of the charts upon its release – the other being Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols.

The band went their separate ways shortly afterwards, deciding to focus on other musical projects instead – over the next 20 years they completely lost contact with one and other.

But in 2010, original members Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito decided to come back together to write, record and produce a brand new Johnny Hates Jazz (JHJ) album.

Entitled Magnetized, the album was released in 2013 and the single of the same name became a huge radio hit in the UK and Germany.

Unfortunately, Clark collapsed in London shortly afterwards, and was diagnosed with a serious illness.  All promotion came to an abrupt halt and he spent much of the following year recovering.

Johnny Hates Jazz began performing again at festivals in Europe and Asia and toured the UK in 2016, appearing at theatres across the country.

During this time Clark also joined forces with Genesis legend Mike Rutherford to co-write the new Mike and The Mechanics album Let Me Fly, released in April this year.

2017 began with JHJ being launched in China with a remix of the track Magnetized and a new video to accompany it; Clark and Mike are now back in the studio recording new material.

Tuesday 5 December 2017, 7pm, £89 VIP/£35/£25, Parr Hall

Tickets go on sale here this Friday, 14 July at 9am.

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Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald chooses Parr Hall for intimate acoustic tour

Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald has announced a special intimate acoustic tour for the autumn, with a night in Warrington.

The new dates follow a sold-out UK tour earlier this year and have been announced to coincide with the release of her new single Down by the Water.

Amy, who is currently in the midst of festival season playing to huge crowds across Europe, said: “It has been such a crazy year.

“The music industry has changed so drastically that I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I have to say I’m blown away by the strength of the live music scene.

“I feel like this year has been my busiest year ever for live shows; I have been all over the place playing so many amazing places in front of so many wonderful fans.

“Something that has struck me this year is the really positive feedback I’ve received from the stripped down part of the shows.

“I always worried that people would get bored without my band thrashing away in the background but it’s been quite the opposite.

“The same goes for the feedback on my new album, Under Stars.  People seemed to be most excited by the stripped down acoustic songs.

“With all of this in mind, and my love for getting out there and performing live, I’ve decided to go on a very special acoustic tour.

“There will only be a handful of dates in smaller, intimate venues.  It’ll be back to basics but I think it will make for a really special tour.

“I can’t wait to see you there!”

Described as “uplifting power-pop indie” by Metro and “extraordinary… Macdonald’s strongest album since her 2007 debut”, Under Stars reached No.2 in the UK album charts, and is Amy’s fourth top 5 album in the UK.

This success has been equalled internationally, with the album also debuting at No.2 and No.1 in the German and Swiss album charts respectively.

The beautiful and powerful new single – accompanied by a picturesque video shot on the idyllic Isle of Sheppey – features backing vocals from Juliet Roberts, who also joined Amy at her recent sold out Royal Albert Hall show.

The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh6mrl8fpjA

Thursday 2 November 2017, 7pm, £25/£35/£45, Parr Hall

Tickets go on sale here at 10am this Friday, 14 July.

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Cultural charity welcomes its first patron

Culture Warrington is delighted to announce that they’ve welcomed on board their first ever patron.

The charity – which delivers arts, heritage, and events across the borough – has appointed international pianist, Stephen Hough CBE, to be an advocate for their charitable work.

The musician, who found his love for the piano in Warrington, grew up on All Saints Drive in Thelwall.

At the age of just five, he pleaded with his parents to buy him his first piano from an antique shop in Stockton Heath – a second-hand rosewood German upright which cost just £5 – after falling in love with the instrument at his aunt’s house, where he would use her piano to play nursery rhythms.

He then started piano lessons with a Miss Riley in Lymm, declaring from the start that he wanted to be a concert pianist.

He studied at Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music, both in Manchester, before winning the finals of the piano section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1978.

At the age of 21, Stephen won the Naumburg International Piano Competition in New York City, which really launched his international career.

Since then, he’s played recitals all around the world appearing on some major stages including Carnegie Hall, Chicago’s Symphony Hall, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Hough is also an accomplished composer and works from him have been commissioned by Wigmore Hall, the Louvre, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Commenting on his new patronage at Culture Warrington, Hough stated: “I’m delighted to be part of Culture Warrington, a charity that does so much great work to improve the cultural scene in Warrington, a place where I have many fond memories of growing up.

“In a certain sense, Warrington has always been a little bit off the map in its cultural and artistic life. I’ve always felt that it underachieved – not because of a lack of talent, but because of a lack of encouragement and a lack of opportunity. And, of course, it’s sandwiched between the giants of Liverpool and Manchester.

“But I think that can be its strength because it can draw from a huge audience from those urban areas as well as from the Cheshire and Lancashire countryside.

“Culture Warrington is working hard to bring life to this underachieving part of the North West with its fantastic potential, and open it up to new ideas.

“I would love for people to feel that they didn’t always have to go to Manchester or Liverpool for cultural events but that they could stay closer to home.”

Culture Warrington’s chair, Maureen Banner, met Stephen at the Royal Northern College of Music – where he is a fellow and the International Chair of Piano Studies – to welcome him on board.

She added: “Stephen is an excellent advocate for culture and is really proud of his Warrington roots. That’s why he’s the perfect person to appoint as our first patron.

“We look forward to working with Stephen to further promote the fantastic cultural and arts scene in Warrington.”

In regards to the importance of culture, Stephen is passionate about it becoming part of everyone’s everyday lives.

“It’s not just about entertainment; culture is an important part of the social fabric of every community. I want to see culture come out of people’s living rooms and onto the streets. I want to see it in the restaurants, in the art galleries, at music events – everywhere.

“Culture is especially important to improve opportunities for young people. It can create employment, reduce crime rates, cultivate friendship and good mental health – in a sense you can’t overstate the importance that the arts can have in our society.”

‘Remarkable’ jazz pianist and composer Zoe Rahman to visit Pyramid for top quality show

Jazz pianist and composer Zoe Rahman is to perform with the Inner City Ensemble at Warrington’s Pyramid arts centre this October.

Described by the Observer as “a remarkable pianist by any standard”, Zoe Rahman has firmly established herself as one of the brightest stars on the contemporary jazz scene.

A vibrant and highly individual artist, her style is deeply rooted in jazz yet reflects her classical background, British/Bengali heritage and her very broad musical taste.

Known for her powerful technique, wide-ranging imagination and exuberant performances, Zoe has become a highly sought-after musician, recently working with the likes of George Mraz, Courtney Pine and Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra.

She is a winner of the prestigious UK Parliamentary Jazz Award and has previously been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

For this third edition of the Jazz Directors Series, presented by Band on the Wall, Rahman is performing with the Inner City Ensemble, an evolving ten-piece group of the UK’s most promising emerging professional musicians, selected through an open call application process.

The ensemble – which includes piano, double bass, drums, flute, clarinet, trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone, trombone, and tuba – will play material written by Rahman for a Guildhall School of Music and Drama project, plus new material never previously performed live.

Saturday 21 October 2017, 8pm, Pyramid, £14 advance/£16 on the door

Tickets go on sale here tomorrow, Wednesday, 5 July at 9am.

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Irish superstar Imelda May adds Warrington date to upcoming tour after phenomenal demand

Diverse singer-songwriter Imelda May has added extra dates to her upcoming tour due to phenomenal demand, and Warrington’s one of them.

The Irish superstar will be hitting the road in November and the tour includes a headline show at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, where Imelda supported The Who in April in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Imelda’s new single Girl I Used to Be, out now, is taken from her top five new album Life. Love. Flesh. Blood and follows the BBC Radio 2-playlisted singles Call Me, Black Tears and Should’ve Been You.

A hauntingly beautiful acoustic ballad, Girl I Used To Be, is a memoir of Imelda’s life growing up in the Liberties area of Dublin and the lessons learned which she will pass on to her daughter.

She said: “I love those old story songs where you’re taken on a journey from beginning to end.

“Songs you’re riveted with, like when you’re in the car and you sit in the driveway because you can’t turn the radio off, you have to listen to the end of the story.

“The lyrics are about my family and my daughter, and myself and my life growing up in Dublin.

“We didn’t have much money but my parents are fabulous, creative and open-minded people; they gave me art and literature and encouraged me to do whatever was in my heart, and I want to do that with my daughter.”

One of the most critically acclaimed releases of 2017, the album spent over a month in the Top 20 and recently returned to the Top 10.

Imelda has promoted the new album with performances on BBC1’s The One Show and The Graham Norton Show, and ITV’s Tonight at the London Palladium.

She also appeared on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 show to perform a brilliant cover of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and recently joined The Guardian for a webchat.

Produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett, Life. Love. Flesh. Blood was recorded over seven days in Los Angeles and features musical contributions from Jeff Beck, Jools Holland (who discovered Imelda) and an accomplished group of backing musicians who between them have performed with the likes of Tom Waits, Robert Plant and The Last Shadow Puppets.

Imelda ended her recent UK and Ireland tour with three sold-out shows at Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre, following a triumphant sold-out gig at London Palladium.

She then headed to the US where she performed a series of prestigious headline shows, including New York’s Webster Hall, after several support dates with Elvis Costello.

Imelda has become one of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists, has performed alongside legendary artists including Lou Reed and Smokey Robinson, and can count high profile artists like Bob Dylan and Bono as fans.

Monday 13 November 2017, 7pm, Parr Hall, £99 VIP package/£35/£25

Tickets go on sale here this Friday, 7 July at 10am.

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Vintage band Stiff Little Fingers bring sounds of punk generation to Warrington

Vintage band Stiff Little Fingers are to bring the sounds of the punk generation to Warrington’s Parr Hall this autumn.

After many studio albums and countless tours, the band are finding themselves more in demand than ever; they are currently working on a new album with many of the songs being debuted at live gigs, to a tremendous response from the fans.

Stiff Little Fingers (SLF) were formed in 1977 in Belfast, Ireland and along with the likes of The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Jam, Buzzcocks, The Undertones, Sham 69 and The Stranglers they were at the forefront of the punk movement.

SLF’s signature style comprises lyrics that meld the personal and political, music that combines the energy of punk with infectious hooks, and delivery that rings of honesty and commitment.

Their live shows continue to be special events of energy and power and, though now focused on their new material, the band continues to play the old favourites at gigs.

Saturday 7 October 2017, 8pm, Parr Hall, £20 advance

Buy tickets now

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Top touring theatre company brings latest kids’ show to town

Warrington families are in for a festive treat this December with the new show Father Christmas Comes up Trumps!

The hugely popular touring company TaleGate Theatre is returning to Parr Hall following the success of family favourites Father Christmas Needs a Wee and The Giant’s Loo Roll which both entertained the Warrington audience last year.

Everyone’s favourite Christmas character is back and this time he’s had three helpings of sprouts.

As he tries to deliver the presents, his tummy rumbles, gurgles and groans but Father Christmas knows he must keep it in – he doesn’t want to wake anyone up!

TaleGate Theatre productions hit the perfect combination of witty humour, fantastic music and that little extra sparkle for which they have become known and loved.

Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps! is a fabulously funny and brilliantly bouncy musical adaptation of Nicholas Allan’s sequel to Father Christmas Needs a Wee.

Artistic director James Worthington said: “We are very excited to tour our new festive musical across the UK.

“It promises to beat our own high standard and really pack a tuneful punch.

“We are really lucky to be working with Nicholas Allan again on another of his books as they are perfect for cheeky children everywhere.

“When even the title makes you laugh you know you are in for a good time!”

Sunday 3 December 2017, 11am & 2:30pm, Parr Hall, £12/£10/£40 family ticket

Buy tickets now

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Amazing story of the Bee Gees returns to Parr Hall after success of new tour

Following the early success of the new tour, the spectacular You Win Again – Celebrating the Music of the Bee Gees is returning to Parr Hall.

Fans of the ultimate disco trio will be delighted by the announcement which comes hot on the heels of Barry Gibb’s eagerly-awaited performance at Glastonbury this weekend.

The new show embarked on its first ever nationwide tour earlier this year, including a stop in Warrington, after a successful West End debut at the Leicester Square Theatre.

The Parr Hall audience will now have another chance to immerse itself in the Gibb brothers’ hits through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, not to mention the glittering array of classics they wrote for other stars.

This dazzling production tells the incredible story of the Bee Gees in an unrivalled musical experience.

Follow the band and their lives through the early charting triumphs, their fall from grace and their meteoric climb back to the top to become the multi-million selling supergroup known and loved by millions across the globe.

This breathtaking concert spectacular will take the Warrington audience on a musical journey through all the best songs including Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, More Than a Woman, You Should Be Dancing, Tragedy, How Deep is Your Love? and Words.

Sunday 8 April 2018, 7.30pm, £25/£23/10th ticket free, Parr Hall

Buy tickets now

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Frank, funny and filthy comedian Sarah Millican announces two Warrington dates

The frank, funny and unapologetically filthy comedian Sarah Millican has announced two dates at Warrington’s Parr Hall next year.

Tickets for the shows, on Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 December 2018, go on sale at 10am this Friday, 30 June, and are sure to sell out fast.

Sarah Millican is not a control freak, she’s a control enthusiast; she even controls her own insults.

On this new tour, Control Enthusiast, she asks “do you arrange the nights out?” and “are you in charge of passports on holiday?” If so, then you’re a control enthusiast too!

The Warrington audience will learn about Rescue Men, farting in hospital pants, what can happen at a bra fitting, the benefits of casserole, plus tips on how to talk to shop assistants and the correct way to eat a biscuit, as Sarah shares fresh stories of her “super normal life”.

Sarah rose to fame sharing painfully honest but immediately identifiable stories about her divorce and has since become a much-loved comedian who is never afraid to draw on her real life experiences for inspiration, no matter how embarrassing or cringeworthy they may be.

And that’s why people love her so much!

Wednesday 5 & Thursday 6 December 2018, 7.15pm, Parr Hall, £27.50

Tickets go on sale at 10am this Friday, 30 June.

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Unearth the history behind your fascinating finds at special archaeology day

Amateur archaeologists are being invited to share their fascinating finds at two special free events being held at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

The Finds Days, organised in association with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), give members of the public the chance to bring along their archaeological discoveries in the hope of finding out more about their history.

Where possible and appropriate the finds will be identified and recorded on the PAS database – which helps inform research on local and national archaeology being carried out now and in the future – by the PAS finds liaison officer for the area, Vanessa Oakden.

Hannah White, collections assistant for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “This is a great opportunity for the public to bring their treasures along and have them looked over by an expert.

“You never know, we might discover the next Winwick Brooch, a medieval gold brooch found by a metal detector in North Warrington which has since been declared as treasure.

“This precious item is currently on display in the museum’s Cabinet of Curiosities gallery and is part of the Treasure20 Project celebrating 20 years since the commencement of the Treasure Act 1996 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

The Finds Days take place on Saturday 15 July and Saturday 21 October with additional dates scheduled for four Saturdays next year; details will be announced at a later date.

Those interested in coming along are asked to inform Warrington museum staff in advance by calling 01925 442339 or 01925 442015.

Metal finds, flint and pottery of more than 300 years old are welcome and attendees are asked to bring details of the find spot such as a grid reference; guidance on how to do this can be provided.

Listings information

Exhibition title: Finds Days

Dates: Saturday 15 July and Saturday 21 October

Times: 11am-2.30pm

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Time running out to see work of ‘one to watch’ young painter shortlisted for major art prize

There are now just three weeks left to see the work of young painter Louise Giovanelli, who was recently shortlisted for a major national art prize, at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

The 24-year-old, who was described as ‘one to watch’ by leading online art gallery Saatchi Art, was recently announced as one of 12 artists in the running to win the 2017 Contemporary British Painting Prize.

One of the pieces she entered in the competition, Mould II, is currently on display at the Warrington gallery as part of her newest body of work, A Throw to the Side, which was inspired by the gallery’s collection.

Louise admitted she was surprised but overjoyed to discover she had been shortlisted.

“I’m just really pleased,” she said.  “All the other artists are really good; they’re all older and more experienced so I’m just grateful to have made it this far.”

A Throw to the Side is a completely new collection of haunting yet beautiful work which explores the sensorial possibilities of paint.

“I like to consider the figure and object,” she added.  “I’m really interested in art history and talking about where our visual tradition comes from.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve been visiting galleries around the world, taking snapshots of different elements of paintings, reinterpreting and reimagining them in new pieces.”

Louise has done the same with Warrington Museum & Art Gallery’s collection by creating alternative narratives to existing work; in this way painting is used as a camera, drawing attention to details that would otherwise be left overlooked or unexplored.

Her starting point was the work of John Warrington Wood, a sculptor of mythological and biblical subjects who was born in the town but later moved to Rome to work.  His statues of Raphael and Michelangelo stand at the entrance to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Giovanelli has reflected upon and considered the artist’s work held within Warrington and the art gallery itself, as well as his wider reach and legacy and how these can be connected to her recent investigations into the relationships between painting, sculpture and architecture.

Louise Giovanelli’s ‘Mould II’

Three of Giovanelli’s paintings which were entered for the 2017 Contemporary British Painting Prize will be featured in a special exhibition in August – when the winner will be announced – at The Stables Gallery in London along with the other shortlisted artists’ work.

If she wins, Louise will be awarded a solo exhibition at The Herrick Gallery in London, a critical essay on her practice by art critic and curator Nicholas Usherwood and a £2,000 purchase prize of her winning work which will then enter The Priseman Seabrook Collection of 21st Century British Painting.

As one of the country’s most promising young painters, Louise’s work has attracted huge interest since she studied fine art at Manchester School of Art, for which she was awarded a first degree.

A Throw to the Side is her third solo exhibition, with previous displays at Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool and Touchstones Rochdale.

She is currently working with The International 3 Gallery in Salford and her work is in high demand, with pieces having just been featured in a dual show at Liverpool’s Crown Building Studios and in a month-long residency at The Griffin Gallery in London which runs until the end of June.

Louise has already been the recipient of a number of prizes including The Leonard James Fine Art Prize, The Manchester Academy of Fine Art Award and The Ken Billany Painting Prize, and in 2015 she was awarded second place in the Saatchi Art Showdown online art competition.

Her work is held in private collections in the UK, USA, Canada, China, Germany, Slovakia and Italy.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “We’re really proud to be featuring work by Louise Giovanelli, especially as she’s now been shortlisted for a top competition like the Contemporary British Painting Prize.

“She has a really keen eye for subtleties and nuances which others might overlook, and the fact that the new work featured in A Throw to the Side was inspired by exhibits from our collection makes it a really unique display.

“Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival is returning this autumn and I hope Louise’s work and achievements inspire other artists to enter the Open Art competition.

“Here at Culture Warrington one of our aims is to support and provide opportunities for emerging artists within the region; Louise’s exhibition is proof of that commitment.”

Members of the public are invited to join Louise Giovanelli at a special exhibition closing event at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery on Thursday 13 July from 6-8pm.

Listings information

Exhibition title: Louise Giovanelli – A Throw to the Side

Dates: Until Saturday 15 July

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

Cheshire launches new identity for dynamic programme of cultural events

Cheshire launches a new identity for its dynamic programme of cultural events.

The identity was unveiled at an outdoor event at Nunsmere Hall Hotel, staged by the cultural programme partners, where guests had been invited to “expect the unexpected” among a tantalising taste of what Cheshire’s cultural scene has to offer.

Slant, the new umbrella brand name, highlights the fact that Cheshire offers an alternative way for people to engage with culture.

The programme presents unique events in unexpected locations, breaking out of traditional theatres and galleries into innovative spaces and out into the Cheshire countryside.

A consortium of partners, including Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester and Warrington Borough Councils, Marketing Cheshire, Culture Warrington, Cheshire Rural Touring Arts, Storyhouse, Tatton Park and the National Trust, have developed a three-year programme supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

The programme will allow Cheshire to reposition culture as a prominent offering in a county traditionally known for countryside, pretty villages and historic towns.

It will focus on increasing the profile of the county’s arts and culture offer with new audiences, and on strengthening links with the tourism industry.

The objective is to manage the delivery of activity already within the region by publicising it, unifying arts organisations and encouraging the growth of the sector.

Rachel McQueen, Director of Tourism for Marketing Cheshire, the place marketing agency for the region which is managing the project, said: “Slant is a huge positive for the region.

“It will increase visitor numbers, diversify those visitors and ultimately increase income for the region through culture and tourism businesses.

“Cheshire’s visitor economy is already worth nearly £3 billion and our cultural venues and events play a key role.

“This year has seen the launch of the country’s largest arts project in Storyhouse, Chester’s brand new theatre, cinema and library.

“There are world class events and festivals where we are breaking ground in terms of digital cultural experiences with Shift, combining arts with science at Bluedot, or embracing the magical countryside with Just So festival.

“Slant will bring these exciting and innovative events to the forefront of the cultural scene and introduce Cheshire as a major player in this sector.”

The Slant programme headliners for 2017 include Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (Culture Warrington), Storyhouse, Shift Digital, ARK at Chester Cathedral, Blue Dot Festival, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Moonlight Flicks, Trust New Art, The Lost Carnival, Clonter Opera, Just So festival, Spare Parts at Crewe Traction festival, the Enchantment of Chester Zoo and the Lead Artists programme.

There is also a wider group of cultural partners involved from across the sub region.

The 2018 and 2019 programmes will be finalised nearer the time.

Rock icon Steve Harley heading to Warrington next month

Classic rock icon and original Cockney Rebel Steve Harley will be playing at Parr Hall next month as part of a busy UK tour.

Steve Harley, who has written and recorded 11 albums in a prolific career spanning four decades, recently returned to the public eye for re-releasing former No. 1, Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), following the tragic murder of MP Jo Cox.

Originally formed in 1973, Cockney Rebel enjoyed top 20 hits with Judy Teen, Mr Soft, Mr Raffles, Here Comes the Sun and, of course, the huge hit Make Me Smile.

The latter is regularly voted among the top singles in the history of the charts – which covers six decades of releases – and The Performing Rights Society has confirmed Make Me Smile as one of the most played records in British broadcasting.

The song has been covered more than 100 times in seven languages, has been featured in several movies including The Full Monty, and been used on more than twenty TV and radio advertising campaigns around the world.

Steve has written lyrics for artists including Rod Stewart, who called him “one of the finest lyricists the UK has ever produced”, and continues to play live concerts most years.

He said: “I love it, more now than ever. I cannot imagine stopping, it’s what I do – play and sing.”

Saturday 22 July 2017, 7:30pm, £27.50 advance, Parr Hall

Buy tickets now

 

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Prepare for A Country Night in Nashville from comfort of Parr Hall

Country music fans are in for a treat this November when Parr Hall hosts A Country Night in Nashville.

The show, which comes to town on Friday 3 November, will take the Warrington audience on a musical journey through the popular genre by recreating a buzzing honky tonk in downtown Nashville.

A Country Night in Nashville perfectly captures the energy and atmosphere of an evening out in the home town of country music; prepare to be transported through the colourful history of country, featuring stars both past and present.

Expect to hear hits from Johnny Cash to Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton to the Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson to Little Big Town, showcased by the amazing Dominic Halpin and the Hurricanes, featuring Shelly Quarmby.

If you can’t get enough of Ring of Fire, Crazy, Follow Your Arrow, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, Need You Now, 9 to 5, and The Gambler, then don’t miss this incredible celebration of the very best of country music.

Friday 3 November 2017, 7.30pm, £23.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets now

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Best of blues rock returns to Warrington with Joanne Shaw Taylor next month

The best of blues rock is returning to Warrington next month in the form of Summertime Festival, headlined by Joanne Shaw Taylor.

Joanne is a blues rock sensation who is taking the world by storm and will be top of the bill at the event, presented by The Gig Cartel, on Saturday 15 July.

With tracks performed on BBC2’s Later with Jools Holland, her latest album Wild entered the UK album charts at number 20 and was welcomed with rave reviews by the press and her peers; American blues rock legend Joe Bonamassa recently described Joanne as a “superstar in waiting”.

Also on the bill will be Stevie Nimmo, Bad Touch, and Xander and the Peace Pirates.

Stevie Nimmo has been successfully recording and touring for the last two decades.  Born and raised in Glasgow, there was always music around as Stevie grew up.

Maverick Magazine said: “Stevie’s voice is at times gritty, other times emotional, but all times perfection.”

Bad Touch are a new young rock band from Norfolk, fresh from a Planet Rock radio station Roadstars tour which earned them recognition as ones to watch for 2017.

And Xander and the Peace Pirates are Liverpool boys who will open the show with a combination of soul, blues and rock; their pervasive blend of inspired song-writing and memorable performances has already seen them enrapture audiences from around the world.

Tickets for this great value event are on sale now.

Saturday 15 July 2017, 5pm, Parr Hall, £20 stalls/£25 circle

Buy tickets now

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No.1 tribute band The Doors Alive bring sounds of the 60s to town

The Doors Alive, the No. 1 tribute band to legendary rockers The Doors, are bringing the psychedelic sounds of the 60s to town with a performance at Pyramid.

They perfectly and effortlessly re-create the sound, look, presence and feel of a real 1960s Doors concert, transporting the crowd back in time.

In their homage to the Californian rock gurus they will play classic hits such as Light My Fire, When the Music’s Over, Riders on the Storm, The End and more when they visit Warrington on Saturday 16 September.

The singer, Willie, captures the attitude, look and voice of the late, great Jim Morrison and the rest of the band have honed the other members’ playing styles immaculately.

To achieve that authentic 60s sound, the band use the very same instruments that members of the original band used, including a vintage Fender Rhodes Bass keyboard, a vintage Vox Continental keyboard and a vintage Gibson SG guitar.

For true The Doors fans this really is a show not to be missed.

Saturday 16 September 2017, 7:30pm, £14 advance/£17 on the door

Pyramid, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL

Buy tickets online

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Nation’s sweetheart Martine McCutcheon announces new tour featuring Warrington date

Singer and actress Martine McCutcheon has been back in the studio and now has plans to go on tour, with a show at Parr Hall.

With the imminent release of her first album of original music in over 15 years, Lost and Found, and a new single, Say I’m Not Alone, the nation’s sweetheart has announced five UK dates including a visit to Warrington on Sunday 12 November 2017.

Now 41, happily married and mother of a 2-year-old, the time felt right for Martine to return to the studio.

Martine has co-written most of the songs on the new album with her husband, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jack McManus, and she has never sounded better!

The new single Say I’m Not Alone is a song like nothing Martine has ever recorded before; it’s big, bold and brash, and merges clanging guitars, thumping drums and a hard-hitting lyric.

Other album highlights include the rocky Any Sign of Life, the beautiful Stay with Me, which is a duet with Jack, and album closer Rebellion.

The album is a deeply personal record that deals with everything from relationships to Martine’s debilitating illness which saw her unable to work.

“Life brought this album about very gradually,” explains Martine. “It was a really unconscious thing; I started writing the songs at a time in my life when I’d lost everything.”

One of the nation’s original sweethearts, Martine McCutcheon first found fame as Tiffany Mitchell in EastEnders before releasing her platinum-selling debut solo album You, Me & Us in 1999 which contained the Number 1 single Perfect Moment.

In 2003, Martine memorably played Natalie in Love Actually before reprising the role for a one-off Comic Relief special earlier this year.

Sunday 12 November 2017, 7pm, £37.50/£27.50

Parr Hall, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL

Buy tickets online

 

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Fascinating free talk to give insight on Victorian Warrington

Bridge Street in 1897

Culture Warrington is teaming up with Warrington Civic Society for its second public talk of the year, and this time the topic is A Virtual Tour of Victorian Warrington.

This fascinating talk, to be held at Friars Green Independent Methodist Church on Cairo Street on Tuesday 20 June at 7pm, is free and open to all.

Janice Hayes, heritage manager for Culture Warrington, will be taking visitors on a virtual tour around Victorian Warrington as part of celebrations to mark the 170th anniversary of Queen Victoria granting Warrington’s Borough Charter.

The rarely seen original document is now on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery as part of a wider programme of events organised by Culture Warrington to celebrate a historic year in the charity’s calendar, which also includes the 140th anniversary of the opening of the art gallery and the 160th anniversary of the opening of the museum and central library building.

Janice Hayes, heritage manager for Culture Warrington, with the town’s rarely seen Borough Charter

Janice said: “I’ll be drawing links between the vision of our Victorian founders for the borough and the museum with the 21st Century vision of Warrington as a city where culture and heritage will play a major role.

“The rare opportunity to see Warrington’s Borough Charter on display at the museum is the starting point of my talk, which will take people on a tour of Victorian Warrington through a wealth of images from our collections, with a focus on the town’s surviving Victorian heritage.”

A Virtual Tour of Victorian Warrington will also touch on the history of a number of important buildings around the town which feature in Janice’s recently published book Warrington in 50 Buildings.

For more information visit Warrington Civic Society’s Facebook page or email warrington.civsoc@gmail.com

Fascinating free talk to give insight on Victorian Warrington

Bridge Street in 1897

Culture Warrington is teaming up with Warrington Civic Society for its second public talk of the year, and this time the topic is A Virtual Tour of Victorian Warrington.

This fascinating talk, to be held at Friars Green Independent Methodist Church on Cairo Street on Tuesday 20 June at 7pm, is free and open to all.

Janice Hayes, heritage manager for Culture Warrington, will be taking visitors on a virtual tour around Victorian Warrington as part of celebrations to mark the 170th anniversary of Queen Victoria granting Warrington’s Borough Charter.

The rarely seen original document is now on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery as part of a wider programme of events organised by Culture Warrington to celebrate a historic year in the charity’s calendar, which also includes the 140th anniversary of the opening of the art gallery and the 160th anniversary of the opening of the museum and central library building.

Janice Hayes, heritage manager for Culture Warrington, with the town’s rarely seen Borough Charter

Janice said: “I’ll be drawing links between the vision of our Victorian founders for the borough and the museum with the 21st Century vision of Warrington as a city where culture and heritage will play a major role.

“The rare opportunity to see Warrington’s Borough Charter on display at the museum is the starting point of my talk, which will take people on a tour of Victorian Warrington through a wealth of images from our collections, with a focus on the town’s surviving Victorian heritage.”

A Virtual Tour of Victorian Warrington will also touch on the history of a number of important buildings around the town which feature in Janice’s recently published book Warrington in 50 Buildings.

For more information visit Warrington Civic Society’s Facebook page or email warrington.civsoc@gmail.com

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Some of the world’s fiercest predators spotted on the prowl in Warrington

Some of the world’s fiercest predators have been spotted on the prowl in Warrington!

Sharks, crocodiles and birds of prey are among the terrifying creatures now on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery as part of a new exhibition called Predators.

This family-friendly free exhibition features specially-selected artefacts, taxidermy and artwork from the museum’s collection and gives visitors a chance to discover fascinating and unusual facts about nature’s top hunters.

Mike Roberts, visitor services officer at the museum, revealed a few of the more unusual details which visitors can expect to uncover: “There are so many weird and sometimes gruesome facts about the animal world which will fascinate and terrify our visitors in this exhibition.

“For example, not many people know that all polar bears are left handed, or that honey bears are thought of as the bravest animal on the planet because they can drive lions away from a kill.

“I was also horrified to learn that South American army ants travel in tens of thousands and eat every living thing in their path, including other insects, mice, pigs and even cows.”

From the guts and gore of the hunt to the grossness of animal dung, Predators promises to fascinate old and young alike with games, interactive objects and displays on the animal kingdom’s different classes such as mammals, reptiles and birds.

There is even advice on how to survive an animal attack, just in case visitors ever find themselves face to face with a crocodile or leopard!

Roger Jeffery, exhibition and interpretation officer at Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “Human beings have always been fascinated by predators – ever since we first stood upright and used tools for the first time about three million years ago.

“Knowing which animals can harm us and learning how they work, from big powerful mammals to poisonous insects, gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage and has kept us alive.

“Through this engaging and imaginative exhibition, visitors will discover what it is that makes each predator excel – their bodies, senses and behaviour, teamwork and intelligence.  It’s a fascinating display which will entertain the whole family.”

Predators is open to the public now and throughout the summer until 16 September; a visit would be perfectly complemented by one of Warrington Museum & Art Gallery’s free children’s craft activity sessions which take place on Saturdays, and each Tuesday and Thursday during the school holidays.

Visit http://www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/event/predators/  for more details.

Listings information

Exhibition title: Predators

Dates: Until Saturday 16 September

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

‘Ridiculous’ comedian Jimeoin to bring hilarious stand up back to Warrington

Notorious for being ridiculous, Jimeoin is internationally acclaimed as one of live comedy’s masters – and he’s returning to Warrington next year.

The Irishman’s brilliantly observed, ever-evolving and hilarious stand-up has made him the undisputed award-winning star of TV shows including Live at the Apollo, Sunday Night at the Palladium, The John Bishop Show, Channel 4’s O2 Comedy Gala and Royal Variety Performance.

The new show, Ridiculous, will be coming to Parr Hall on Saturday 10 February 2018 and tickets are on sale now.

Don’t miss what promises to be a knock-out performance; grab a ring-side seat for an unforgettably hilarious evening of world-class stand-up with Ireland’s champion ‘unbelievably funny comedian’.

The Age, in Australia, where Jimeoin rose to prominence, described him as “a superb physical comic” with “a quirky, whimsical and sometimes mischievous view of the world” and Edinburgh Evening News described the comedian as “hilarious” and “ridiculous”, and said “don’t you miss it”.

Saturday 10 February 2018, 7.30pm, tickets £18

Pyramid, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL

Buy tickets online

Young painter with new Warrington exhibition is shortlisted for major art prize

Mould II, Louise Giovanelli, 2017, oil on canvas

Mould II, Louise Giovanelli, 2017, oil on canvas

A young painter who recently unveiled a solo exhibition at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery has been shortlisted for a major national art prize.

Louise Giovanelli, 24, who was described as ‘one to watch’ by leading online art gallery Saatchi Art, has been announced as one of 12 artists in the running to win the 2017 Contemporary British Painting Prize.

One of the pieces she entered in the competition, Mould II, can now be seen at the Warrington gallery as part of her new body of work, A Throw to the Side, which was inspired by the gallery’s collection.

Louise admitted she was surprised but overjoyed to discover she had been shortlisted.

“I’m just really pleased,” she said. “All the other artists are really good; they’re all older and more experienced so I’m just grateful to have made it this far.”

Three of Giovanelli’s paintings will be featured in a special exhibition in August, at London’s The Stables Gallery along with the other shortlisted artists’ work, when the winner will be announced.

If she wins, Louise will be awarded a solo exhibition at The Herrick Gallery in London, a critical essay on her practice by art critic and curator Nicholas Usherwood and a £2,000 purchase prize of her winning work which will then enter The Priseman Seabrook Collection of 21st Century British Painting.

As one of the country’s most promising young painters, Louise’s work has attracted huge interest since she studied fine art at Manchester School of Art, for which she was awarded a first degree.

A Throw to the Side is a completely new collection of haunting yet beautiful work which explores the sensorial possibilities of paint.

“I like to consider the figure and object,” she added. “I’m really interested in art history and talking about where our visual tradition comes from.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve been visiting galleries around the world, taking snapshots of different elements of paintings, reinterpreting and reimagining them in new pieces.”

Louise has done the same with Warrington Museum & Art Gallery’s collection by creating alternative narratives to existing work; in this way painting is used as a camera, drawing attention to details that would otherwise be left overlooked or unexplored.

Her starting point was the work of John Warrington Wood, a sculptor of mythological and biblical subjects who was born in the town but later moved to Rome to work. His statues of Raphael and Michelangelo stand at the entrance to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Giovanelli has reflected upon and considered not only the pieces of his held within Warrington and the art gallery itself, but his wider reach and legacy and how these can be connected to her recent investigations into the relationships between painting, sculpture and architecture.

A Throw to the Side is Louise’s third solo exhibition, with previous displays at Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool and Touchstones Rochdale.

She is currently working with The International 3 Gallery in Salford and her work is in great demand, with a month-long residency at The Griffin Gallery in London later this year and a dual show at Liverpool’s Crown Building Studios in June.

Louise has already been the recipient of a number of prizes including The Leonard James Fine Art Prize, The Manchester Academy of Fine Art Award and The Ken Billany Painting Prize, and in 2015 she was awarded second place in the Saatchi Art Showdown online art competition.

Her work is held in private collections in the UK, USA, Canada, China, Germany, Slovakia and Italy.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said: “We’re really proud to be featuring work by Louise Giovanelli, especially as she’s now been shortlisted for a top competition like the Contemporary British Painting Prize.

“She has a really keen eye for subtleties and nuances which others might overlook, and the fact that the new work featured in A Throw to the Side was inspired by exhibits from our collection makes it a really unique display.

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival is returning this autumn and I hope Louise’s work and achievements inspire other artists to enter the Open Art competition.

“Here at Culture Warrington one of our aims is to support and provide opportunities for emerging artists within the region; Louise’s exhibition is proof of that commitment.”

Perfect Christmas ballet The Nutcracker coming to Warrington this December

The classic Christmas ballet of The Nutcracker will be enchanting the Warrington audience this December.

The Vienna Festival Ballet production promises to sweep us away on a magical adventure in one of the most famous classical ballets of all time.

With its combination of stunning choreography and unforgettable music, this fabulous ballet is a Christmas treat like no other.

Set to Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous score, the traditional tale of The Nutcracker tells the story of Clara and her enchanted nutcracker doll.

Their adventures see Clara and the Nutcracker combat the Mouse King and join the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier on a wonderful journey through the glistening Land of Snow to a kingdom made entirely of sweets.

Returning by popular demand, Vienna Festival Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker promises to delight audiences of all ages with its festive setting and captivating story.

Tickets for the performance, on Sunday 10 December at 2.30pm, are on sale now.

Sunday 10 December 2017, 2.30pm, tickets £19.50/£17.50/£12.50, Parr Hall

Buy tickets online

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Classic Hollywood movie genre ‘film noir’ begins touring Warrington’s libraries

 

The classic Hollywood movie genre ‘film noir’ has begun touring Warrington’s libraries with a stunning photographic exhibition, special film screenings and a display on the history of cinema in the town.

Paint it Black, a joint project between Warrington photographer Paul Jackson and partners Culture Warrington, LiveWire and Warrington Borough Council, explores the dark and mysterious world of film noir, a genre of American crime thrillers such as The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity and The Killers.

An exhibition of photographs inspired by these highly stylised black and white films, which are so evocative of mystery and intrigue with their dimly-lit nightscapes and smoky silhouettes, recently enjoyed a hugely successful launch night to coincide with an official celebration of Warrington’s City of Culture bid.

Speaking after the event, Paul said: “It went excellently.  The feedback was all brilliant, from the volunteers who took part and the dignitaries who came along.

“The volunteer models hadn’t seen their own photos yet so it was lovely to see the looks on their faces when they saw them for the first time.”

The Paint it Black collection, all captured by talented photographer Paul Jackson, is now on tour, spending a week at five of the town’s libraries – Warrington Central, Penketh, Culcheth, Stockton Heath and Padgate.

The retro images are accompanied by special screenings of classic film noir movies and promotion of the “hardboiled” American crime fiction novels which inspired them.

Warrington Noir, an exhibition exploring the history of cinema in Warrington during the 1940s and 1950s, is also now running at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery to coincide with the film noir celebration, featuring images and memorabilia from the period.

Paul, of Unit 8 Photography, said he was excited about the opportunity to promote the town’s library offer.

“I love our libraries and want to help promote what a great range of services and activities they have on offer,” he explained.  “The whole point of this project is to show people how special our libraries are and to encourage them to come and have a look.

“This is a really exciting project and a fantastic advert for the town and its people.”

The models, make-up artists, hair stylists, set and costume designers, and production assistants who took part in the project were all volunteers from the Warrington area who were keen to help recreate the mood of this truly unique period in filmmaking.

Paul added: “There’s a wealth of talent in our town which deserves to be recognised.

“Community cohesion was key and I can’t thank those who took part enough for their time and support.”

Some of Warrington’s best known and most iconic buildings, including Central Library, Pyramid arts centre, Parr Hall, and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, provided stunning backdrops to some of the images, with portrait shots being taken in Paul’s studio at Pyramid.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager at Culture Warrington, hoped the project would help raise the profile of the town’s libraries.

He said: “Paint it Black is a brilliant project in its own right, but the fact that it’s designed to encourage people into Warrington’s libraries, to showcase their unique offer and highlight their importance as community hubs, makes it all the more worthwhile.

“This is a really unique multi-media project which explores an important and influential period in film history; it was all made possible thanks to the people of Warrington kindly donating their time and enthusiasm, making this a truly original community project.

“We hope as many Warrington residents as possible come along to see the touring exhibition and enjoy the film screenings, while reminding themselves how important our libraries are.”

The project was also made possible thanks to generous donations from Warrington businesses such as Watsons Solicitors, and St Rocco’s Hospice which loaned Paul some of the stunning costumes featured in the images.

Tickets for the film screenings can be bought at any of Warrington’s libraries or at www.pyramidparrhall.com

Listings information

Exhibition title: Paint it Black touring photographic exhibition

Dates & locations:

29 April-4 May – Central Library

5-11 May – Penketh Library

12-18 May – Culcheth Library

19-25 May – Stockton Heath Library

26 May-2 June – Padgate Library

Times: see library’s opening times

Admission: Free

 

Exhibition title: Paint it Black film screenings

Dates & locations:

4 May – Central Library – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

11 May – Penketh Library – Double Indemnity (1944)

18 May – Culcheth Library – The Killers (1946)

25 May – Stockton Heath Library – The Big Heat (1953)

1 June – Padgate Library – Touch of Evil (1958)

Times: films start at 7.30pm

Admission: £3

 

Exhibition title: Warrington Noir

Dates: 29 April – 1 July

Times: All day

Admission: Free

Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB

www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Interpret – review

Art blogger Eli Regan reviews the Interpret exhibition, which showcases the work of young artists training at Warrington Collegiate.

The Birth of Georgia by Georgia Fairbrother is an intriguing work comprising a bin with a plaster of Paris leg emerging out of it. This work continues the tradition of Marcel Duchamp and the found object and also seems to relate to the Arte Povera movement, where radical Italian artists in the 1960s and 70s used rags, dirt and oil to make their uncompromising art.

Georgia’s piece could be interpreted as a comment on consumerism as the leg appears covered by Burger King, Subway, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and other famous brands, in a nod to Warhol and Pop Art.

Art courses are a time for experimentation in young students’ lives and Bobby-Jo Hodgkinson’s piece Dillusion Pollution certainly conveys this. Her piece involves manipulated photographs and digital graphics. The central piece comprises a young girl with melancholic brown eyes. Bobby-Jo overlays an image of cracked earth which in turn makes her face appear brittle and broken while a factory billows pollution in the background.

Caitlin Tang’s embroidered Self-Reflection sees a girl brutally pick out the wool out of her eyes. The contrast of a seemingly gentle pursuit such as stitching with the violence of the girl pulling the wool out of her eyes, or even the eye itself, is powerful.

The breadth of work on show is fantastic as well as the many mediums the artists have chosen to present the work in. Visit the Museum to see many more of the pieces (video, paper carvings, etc).

Interpret is on show at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery until 17 June 2017.

Words and photography by Eli Regan

Young and old explore ‘what matters’ in new exhibition to promote health and wellbeing

Dolly creates a masterpiece for the exhibition. © Laura Robinson

Children and older people have come together in a unique project which illustrates how creativity can aid health, happiness and wellbeing.

What Matters?, a new exhibition at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, is a thought-provoking collection of artwork created by children from BloomingArt’s after school classes and members of the Art in Life group for over 55s, many of whom have experienced feeling isolated through various reasons.

The paintings are heartfelt depictions of what matters most to those who created them and cover a variety of themes including family and our environment.

Gail Stubbings, founder of BloomingArt which is mainly based at The Warrington Club in Bold Street, explained how important the classes are to those who take part.

“Some of the Art in Life members have been quite isolated; one hadn’t left their home in years before they joined and others have suffered from issues like anxiety or agoraphobia.

“The Art in Life group is like a family, they get so much from the classes; it’s provided them with interchangeable skills and a new beginning.

“At the very least it’s somewhere to chat and make new friends, and that goes for the children in the after school classes too; they get the opportunity to explore and develop their creativity and express themselves through art.”

Members of the two groups, who ranged in age from six to 90, came together for a special launch event on Friday and were delighted to see their work on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

BloomingArt founder Gail Stubbings and Dan Wheatley from Mid Orford Residents’ Association. © Laura Robinson

Gail added: “There were a lot of proud faces and even some happy tears; it means a lot to them all that people will get to see their work on display at a proper art gallery.

“Creating What Matters? has been a lovely experience, a really worthwhile project.

“The children learnt from the Art in Life members and the older people got a lot from the energy and enthusiasm of the children.”

Art in Life, which meets weekly at Orford Community Hub, was initially funded by Cheshire Community Foundation and this year has been supported by Warrington Borough Council; Gail thanked Dan Wheatley from Mid Orford Residents’ Association for having the vision which led to her delivering the project.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager at Culture Warrington, added: “The work on display in this exhibition is proof that encouraging residents to engage in art can improve health and wellbeing in the community.

“By exploring their inner artist and using the canvas as a tool for expression, interesting and personal art has been produced by those who took part.

“It’s important that venues like Warrington Museum & Art Gallery showcase work by local residents as well as professional artists; I hope What Matters? is an inspiration to all those who see it.”

For more information about BloomingArt’s classes call Gail Stubbings on 07758124582, email enquiries@bloomingart.org.uk or gail@bloomingart.org.uk, or visit www.bloomingart.org.uk

Listings information
Exhibition title: What Matters?
Dates: Until Saturday 6 May
Times: All day
Admission: Free
Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB
www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Warrington Volunteer Festival – Count me in!

Warrington’s first ‘Volunteer Festival’ is just around the corner – and local people of all ages are being urged to come along to discover more about the wide variety of opportunities available.

It’s all happening on Thursday 27 April at the Pyramid on Palmyra Square, from 4pm-8pm (last entry 7.45pm), hosted by Warrington Voluntary Action in association with Warrington Borough Council, LiveWire and Culture Warrington.

The free, drop-in event is open to everyone, from parents to retirees, part timers to full timers, young people and families. A variety of local organisations will be showcasing the range of options available, including sports and leisure, community and health, arts and culture, animals and the environment and everything in between.

Alison Cullen, Chief Executive at Warrington Voluntary Action, said: “Volunteering can make a big difference in your local community. If you want to make a positive change but don’t know where to start, this event is for you – there’s a volunteer opportunity to suit everyone.

“There are an estimated 44,000 volunteers currently active across the borough and together they make this a caring, vibrant and fun place to be. Do your bit and join the volunteers of Warrington!”

Graham Cheers volunteers his time to organise Warrington’s junior parkrun, he said: “I would never have classed myself as a confident person before but now I feel that my confidence has grown – especially with public speaking. I have become more known within my community and really enjoy getting involved in projects to help children get more active.”

The event marks the launch of Count me in – a new Warrington-wide campaign aimed at making the borough an even better place to live, work, visit and do business.

Registration for the event can be completed online at warringtonva.org.uk/count-me-volunteering-fest-2017. Further information is available from Warrington Voluntary Action by emailing stef@warringtonva.org.uk or calling 01925 246 880.

Classic Hollywood movie genre ‘film noir’ comes to life at Warrington’s libraries

The classic Hollywood movie genre ‘film noir’ is coming to Warrington’s libraries in May with a touring photographic exhibition, special film screenings and a display on the history of cinema in the town.

Paint it Black, a joint project between Warrington photographer Paul Jackson and partners Culture Warrington, LiveWire and Warrington Borough Council, will explore the dark and mysterious world of film noir, a genre of American crime thrillers such as The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity and The Killers.

An exhibition of photographs inspired by these highly stylised black and white films, which are so evocative of mystery and intrigue with their dimly-lit nightscapes and smoky silhouettes, will go on tour, spending a week at five of the town’s libraries – Warrington Central, Penketh, Culcheth, Stockton Heath and Padgate.

The retro images will be accompanied by special screenings of classic film noir movies and promotion of the “hardboiled” American crime fiction novels which inspired them.

Warrington Noir, an exhibition exploring the history of cinema in Warrington during the 1940s and 1950s, will also run at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery to coincide with the film noir celebration, and will feature images and memorabilia from the period.

Paul, of Unit 8 Photography, said he was excited about the opportunity to promote the town’s library offer.

“I love our libraries and want to help promote what a great range of services and activities they have on offer,” he explained. “I am also quite a fan of old black and white films so Paint it Black provides an opportunity to explore both interests, and to have fun while hopefully doing something worthwhile.

“This is a really exciting project and a fantastic advert for the town and its people.”

Models, make-up artists, hair stylists, set and costume designers, and production assistants who live or work in the Warrington area are needed to help recreate some of the most memorable and iconic scenes from this truly unique period of filmmaking in 24 photos. No previous experience is required.

Paul added: “There’s a wealth of talent in our town which deserves to be recognised.

“You don’t have to be a professional to take part; community cohesion is the key so I want to hear from those who have never done anything like this before as well as those with experience.

“We’re after models with all sorts of looks and volunteers with a variety of skills to star in the exhibition.”

Warrington’s best known and most iconic buildings, including the Town Hall, Central Library, Pyramid & Parr Hall, Walton Hall and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, will provide stunning backdrops to some of the images with portrait shots being taken in Paul’s studio at Pyramid arts centre.

All participants will be invited to the grand opening night of the touring exhibition and be given copies of the shots they contributed to; an ideal addition to any portfolio and a lasting memory of taking part in such a unique project.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager at Culture Warrington, hopes the project will help raise the profile of the town’s libraries.

He said: “Paint it Black is designed to encourage people into Warrington’s libraries, to showcase their unique offer and highlight their importance as community hubs.

“It’s also a really unique multi-media project which will explore an important and influential period in film history.

“We hope as many Warrington residents as possible can get involved, whether that’s through helping to create the images going on display or coming along to see the exhibition and enjoying the film screenings.”

St Rocco’s Hospice has volunteered to provide costumes and Culture Warrington staff are helping to source props to make the shots as authentic as possible. There is also the opportunity for local businesses to sponsor the project.

To contribute, or apply for a place, email Paul on film@unit8photography.com, message him at www.facebook.com/unit8photos or call 07515 337975.

Tickets can be bought at any of Warrington’s libraries or at www.pyramidparrhall.com

Listings information
Exhibition title: Paint it Black touring photographic exhibition
Dates & locations:
29 April-4 May – Central Library
5-11 May – Penketh Library
12-18 May – Culcheth Library
19-25 May – Stockton Heath Library
26 May-2 June – Padgate Library
Times: see library’s opening times
Admission: Free

Exhibition title: Paint it Black film screenings
Dates & locations:
4 May – Central Library – The Maltese Falcon (1941)
11 May – Penketh Library – Double Indemnity (1944)
18 May – Culcheth Library – The Killers (1946)
25 May – Stockton Heath Library – The Big Heat (1953)
1 June – Padgate Library – Touch of Evil (1958)
Times: films start at 7.30pm
Admission: £3

Exhibition title: Warrington Noir
Dates: 29 April – 1 July
Times: All day
Admission: Free
Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB
www.warringtonmuseum.co.uk

Swedish artist exhibits striking work about courage in the face of difficult times

A talented Swedish artist on a six-month work placement in Warrington is displaying striking artwork about never losing courage.

Lars Fredriksson is an abstract painter from Malmö in southern Sweden whose work has been exhibited in his home country, Berlin and now Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

He has spent the last six months in the town and the exhibition, Boundlessness, features work inspired by his time here.

“The English hospitality shown has impressed me and I enjoy being a part of a different culture and society,” he said.

“You learn and develop a lot from that and you find new sources of inspiration.”

An industrial engineer, Lars arrived in Warrington in September as project manager for Swedish company Duni, which has a site in Preston Brook. But in his spare time his passion is art.

The 33-year-old has been drawing, painting and creating all his life, achieving his first exhibition about 10 years ago; he is now serious about developing his art in the future.

Lars said: “The drive cannot be explained; it is more of a need to express yourself and just like an author tells his or her story by writing, a painter tells his or her story by painting it.

“Boundlessness is about never losing courage and to choose life even if circumstances are very difficult.

“The exhibition at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery means a lot to me both emotionally and professionally. I also very much like the museum itself and the historical part.”

Lars specialises in abstract work in charcoal and spray-paint and is planning another exhibition in Manchester during the summer.

“I see my artistry as a journey and I would like this journey to continue taking my art to new places,” he added.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager at Culture Warrington, said: “Boundlessness is a fascinating visual document of Lars’ time in Warrington.

“It’s great to be able to exhibit work by a talented international artist like Lars; the exhibition is a striking and colourful addition to our collection.”

For more information about Lars and his work visit www.larsfredriksson.com

Listings information
Exhibition title: Boundlessness
Dates: until Saturday 22 April
Times: All day
Admission: Free
Location: Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Young people at heart of two fascinating exhibitions at Pyramid

Young people from across Warrington have inspired and created two fascinating exhibitions currently on display at Pyramid arts centre.

Us and Them and Way Back When started as a Heritage Lottery-funded history project inspired by the building on Museum Street currently occupied by the Relationships Centre.

This detailed exhibition was created by young people who use the centre; they researched previous inhabitants of the building, which dates back to 1877, as well as some of the neighbouring addresses.

The group explored the lives and experiences of Warrington’s teenagers over the past 130 years, comparing the support systems of the past with those available today.

Future Forecast features striking artwork produced by students on the UAL Extended Diploma class at Carmel College in St Helens.

The exhibits on display explore the students’ interpretation of ‘the future’ through a variety of art specialisms including photography, textiles, animation and graphics.

One student’s work documents personal stories which illustrate the contrast between rich and poor, and the theme of homelessness.

Another explores over-population through the depiction of a fictional city of the future while a third explores the evolution of the English language.

Both exhibitions run until Saturday 4 March.

Listings information
Exhibition title: Us and Them and Way Back When
Dates: Until Saturday 4 March
Times: All day
Admission: Free
Location: Pyramid arts centre, Cultural Quarter, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL
www.pyramidparrhall.com

Listings information
Exhibition title: Future Forecast
Dates: Until Saturday 4 March
Times: All day
Admission: Free
Location: Pyramid arts centre, Cultural Quarter, Palmyra Square South, Warrington, WA1 1BL
www.pyramidparrhall.com

Residents’ memories needed for Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub

52'15_6 GS School Fancy Dress circa 1935The people of Warrington are being urged to dig out old photos and share stories to feature in a new health and wellbeing facility.

Culture Warrington’s archives team are on the hunt for pictures which could be the final piece in the jigsaw of west Warrington’s history to be displayed in the new Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub – one of the region’s first dementia-friendly facilities.

The charity has received a grant from Arts Council England, which has been allocated through Museum Development North West, to work with the community to display the memorable pictures and pieces of art throughout the building to assist with navigation.

The hub will provide health and wellbeing facilities including a fitness suite, two swimming pools, studios, library, health space and spa for residents living in the area which has Warrington’s fastest ageing population.

With construction of the new facility now well underway, Culture Warrington is asking residents to remember the rich history of the area that the new hub will serve.

Heritage manager at Culture Warrington, Janice Hayes, said: “We’ve scoured the official records in our collections of west Warrington and we have some huge gaps we need your help filling.

Visual External entrance 2“We have old maps of the area to help build up a great picture of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but very little to tell the story of the area from the late 1940s to today.

“We believe you can help us fill in these gaps, although you may not even realise your stories and photos are of interest to others.

“We’d really like your help and would love to talk to you about your memories.”

It is hoped the images will help the team illustrate the growth of the suburbs and housing estates and a new way of life in the areas surrounding Great Sankey.

The invite is being extended to anyone who was a pioneer of the new districts like Hood Manor, Barrow Hall or Westbrook, as well as residents of Sankey, Penketh or Burtonwood who have seen these areas of Warrington change over the decades.

The team would also like to hear from residents with images from the Coronation parties in 1953 and Silver Jubilee parties in 1977 for example.

Information and images about the opening of new buildings and schools are also welcome, as are stories about moving to the area from elsewhere. Posters, leaflets, adverts and parish magazines which record an event taking place could also be invaluable.

To get involved, please contact Philip Jeffs, archives and heritage officer at Culture Warrington by writing to him at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Central Library & Museum, Cultural Quarter, Warrington, WA1 1JB, call 01925 443023 or email pjeffs@culturewarrington.org

Older people visit Pyramid to see their memories and life experiences on display through art

Slippers 1

A group of older people visited Pyramid arts centre today to see a project they put their memories and life experiences into.

Slippers in the Rain is a unique art project created by collaboration between older Lymm residents, local artist Helena Edwards and Culture Warrington.

The group took part in workshops to discuss their thoughts and feelings before using them as inspiration for striking works of art, now displayed in the Slippers in the Rain exhibition at Pyramid arts centre.

Memories of the hardships of wartime and the pleasures of dancing are also featured.

Residents from the Lymm care homes involved, Cheshire Grange and Keate House, were delighted to visit Pyramid and see their hard work displayed in the art gallery.

77-year-old Joseph Newton, from Keate House, said: “It’s fantastic to come along and see the display.

“Art takes your mind off things and gives you something to enjoy. I like building and painting model planes as well so I was happy to get involved with this.”

Margaret Clough, 76, who lives at Cheshire Grange, added: “I think it’s marvellous that our art is on display. I’m very proud.”

Named after a line in Jenny Joseph’s popular poem Warning, about positive ageing, the display features a variety of work produced by residents aged between 60 and over 90.

The colourful illustrations capture the spirit of that poem; of taking delight in the freedoms that can come with advancing age.

Artist Helena said: “Many older people are forced to give up hobbies they have enjoyed because of failing health, which leads to isolation.

“I believe that painting can be a positive outlet for creativity and provide a sense of companionship, regardless of whether people feel they are ‘artistic’.”

Creativity, she said, can help people face challenges like loneliness and failing health, to celebrate and share memories, and to respond to the world around them.

The Slippers in the Rain display, which ends on Saturday 28 January, is accompanied by a comments book featuring reviews such as “beautiful”, “moving” and “colourful and expressive”.

Greetings cards featuring Lilies of the Field are also available to buy for a donation of £1.50 to Lymm Baptist Church.

Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub Memories Project

Mrs Hilda Gleave and Mrs Ann Clarke at Fox Street Silver Jubilee Party, Sankey Bridges, 1977

Mrs Hilda Gleave and Mrs Ann Clarke at Fox Street Silver Jubilee Party, Sankey Bridges, 1977

Here in the archives at Warrington Museum, we are undertaking a new project. With construction of the Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub well underway, we thought that this would be the perfect time to look back at the rich history of the area the new hub will serve.

We’ve scoured the official records in our collections of West Warrington and we have some huge gaps we need YOUR help in filling. We have old maps, documents and photographs of the area to help build up a great picture of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but very little to tell the story of the area from the late 1940s to today. This recent history would help us tell the story of a moment in the history of Warrington. They show the growth of suburbs and housing estates and a new way of life.

We believe you can help us fill in these gaps although you may not even realise your stories and photos are of interest to others but we’d really like your help!

Here’s how:-

  • Were you one of the pioneers of the new districts like Hood Manor, Barrow Hall or Westbrook? Are you one of the residents of Sankey, Penketh or Burtonwood who has seen this area of Warrington change almost beyond recognition from the 1960s?
  • Did you take part in a Coronation party in 1953, or a Silver jubilee party in 1977, did you attend the opening of a new building, or were you one of the first students in a new school? Did you move to the area from somewhere else, and if so why did you choose Warrington?
  • Do you have any pictures of the area from the 1950s that you would be willing to let us scan and keep a copy of?
  • Do you have any posters or leaflets, adverts or parish magazines that record an event taking place that we could make a copy of?
  • Or do you have a memory of an event that took place that we could record you talking about?

We’d love to talk to you about any of these things or anything else you remember about the area. If you would like to share your memories, or would like to learn how to record other people’s memories and help us in that way, please contact me at the details given below.

Philip Jeffs
Archives and Heritage Officer
Culture Warrington,
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery,
Cultural Quarter,
Warrington,
WA1 1JB

Telephone:  01925 443023

Email: pjeffs@culturewarrington.org

Miss UK 1969 (Sheena Drummond) opens an extension at penketh Co-op in 1970, shown here with staff member William Smith

Miss UK 1969 (Sheena Drummond) opens an extension at penketh Co-op in 1970, shown here with staff member William Smith

£300,000 grant to support culture in Warrington and Cheshire

parr-hall-stageCheshire has received funding from Arts Council England and Visit England to enable it to be recognised as a true cultural destination which is on a par with other major counties and cities including London, Liverpool and Stratford.

The three unitary authorities in the county, Warrington, Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester, will share a £300,000 grant to enable them to work strategically with the tourism sector under the ‘cultural destination’ banner.

With all three boroughs enjoying increasing popularity and a strengthening visitor economy, the successful bid for funding is seen as an injection of faith and confidence in the county’s cultural and tourism industries.

Cllr Tony Higgins, executive member of culture, leisure and communities at Warrington Borough Council, said: “This is great news for Warrington and the wider sub region. I’m delighted that Arts Council England and Visit England have demonstrated their confidence in our cultural potential in this way.

cllr-tony-higgins“We are making great strides in improving our cultural offer here and this funding will help us to make Warrington an even more attractive destination for visitors and residents alike.

“I’ll be looking for us to use this funding to improve the range and variety of events on offer in our borough and to deliver a cultural programme which connects with all of our communities.”

All three authorities were able to prove they had the partnership capacity to meet several criteria.

These included an increase in the numbers and range of people experiencing the arts and culture in local destinations to boost the visitor economy, increased income leading to greater sustainability and resilience for culture and tourism businesses, repositioning of culture as a prominent part of the visitor offer and a commitment from public and private sector partners to continue working in partnership to support cultural tourism.

The bid document set out a number of objectives to strengthen and develop the cultural and visitor offer across the county.

Cheshire East will be the lead accountable body and chair of a consortium to drive forward the development of a cultural and tourism strategy, while Marketing Cheshire will be the destination management organisation tasked with undertaking management of the consortium, delivering agreed activity between partners and the development of branding.

Core partners include Warrington Borough Council, Culture Warrington, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Storyhouse, Cheshire Rural Touring Arts, Tatton Park and the National Trust. There is also a wider group of delivery partners, including cultural organisations, venues and tourism destinations.

Maureen Banner, chair of Culture Warrington, said: “We are delighted to have received this accolade from Visit England and Arts Council England, and it is fantastic that Warrington is being recognised as a cultural destination.

“The funding will enable us to work more closely with our partners across the county to support the cultural events programme here in Warrington including the annual Contemporary Arts Festival.”

The consortium will determine the annual events programme and how to support venues and organisations to benefit from the wider programme of cultural and tourism activity.

Older people use art to share memories and life experiences

img_2177

Older people have been exploring and sharing their memories and life experiences through a unique art project.

The group, who all live in Lymm, took part in workshops to discuss their thoughts and feelings before using them as inspiration for striking works of art, now displayed in the Slippers in the Rain exhibition at Pyramid arts centre.

Named after Jenny Joseph’s popular poem Warning, about positive ageing, the display features a variety of work produced by residents aged between 60 and over 90.

The colourful illustrations capture the spirit of that poem; of taking delight in the freedoms that can come with advancing age.

The residents, some of whom live independently and some in care homes, gathered together for workshops with local artist Helena Edwards and enjoyed contributing towards collaborative collages or producing their own unique masterpieces.

Helena said: “Many older people are forced to give up hobbies they have enjoyed because of failing health, which leads to isolation.

“I believe that painting can be a positive outlet for creativity and provide a sense of companionship, regardless of whether people feel they are ‘artistic’.”

Creativity, she said, can help people face challenges like loneliness and failing health, to celebrate and share memories, and to respond to the world around them.

Inspiration for the artwork also came from residents’ memories of the hardships of wartime and the pleasures of dancing.

Lilies of the Field was created at an event at Lymm Baptist Church for older people who are living independently in the community while the other artists live in residential care homes such as Keate House and Cheshire Grange.

Helena added: “I am hoping that the current exhibition will become a regular event and include a much wider range of older artists. I am sure many care homes and day centres across Warrington will be doing similar work and it would be great to share our ideas.

“It is also very encouraging for older people to know their efforts are appreciated: we have had some lovely feedback on this exhibition.”

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager, explained Culture Warrington’s mission to showcase the positive and creative aspect of the older people’s community.

He said: “We wanted to challenge the negative stereotypes of ageing and living in residential care, and show that older people have a wealth of experience and wisdom which is often very inspiring.

“I hope the group are proud of their achievements and enjoyed expressing themselves artistically, and that others will be encouraged to do the same.”

The Slippers in the Rain display is accompanied by a comments book which already features reviews describing the work as “beautiful”, “moving” and “colourful and expressive”.

Greetings cards featuring Lilies of the Field are available to buy for a donation of £1.50 to Lymm Baptist Church.

Warrington climbs 24 places overall in this year’s RSA Heritage Index

Warrington has taken action over the last year to improve its heritage according to the Royal Society of Arts’ (RSA) Heritage Index.

 

Last year, the town was ranked bottom in the index’s assets category. This year, the RSA has assessed that Warrington’s heritage assets are worthy of climbing 21 places, while its increased heritage activities propel it 81 places up the activities rankings.

 

Reflecting this progress, this year the town climbed 24 places overall to be ranked the 296th best area in the Heritage Index compared to its overall ranking of 320 last year out of the 325 areas assessed.

 

Warrington was also ranked outside the bottom ten in all categories of the index, which is produced in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

 

The RSA has applauded the work of the council and charitable trust, Culture Warrington who have worked in partnership to take positive steps to improve access to heritage across the borough.

 

The author of the 2016 Heritage Index, RSA associate director, Jonathan Schifferes, said: “We were impressed last year when Warrington citizens rallied around to understand how local heritage could be better recognised – and celebrated. Culture Warrington and other local partners haven’t failed to fulfil their ambition to see the borough do better.

 

“Heritage connects people to the places they live. Our research shows that the links between heritage and identity are strongest in places where local people are involved in heritage – and we are encouraged that many in Warrington seem to be taking this approach.”

 

Cllr Tony Higgins, executive member of culture, leisure and communities at Warrington Borough Council, added: “Everybody who lives and works in Warrington knows we have a cultural and heritage offer that grows stronger by the day. It’s fantastic that this is reflected in this year’s RSA Heritage Index.

 

“Over the last year we have worked closely with our partners, Culture Warrington to develop an active programme of events and activities which highlight our heritage and culture. This has included working with organisations across Warrington to expand our Heritage Open Days, opening up 11 historic venues across the town for residents to explore.

 

“We have also supported the publishing of a new book which highlights 50 of Warrington’s iconic buildings and we are looking to identify funding for people to nominate other buildings in Warrington which could be celebrated.

 

“2017 is set to be very exciting for Warrington, as we celebrate our 170th anniversary with a range of special events, including a Heritage Matters Conference. We can take the confidence gained from our new index placing into next year and continue to build on it in the future.”

 

The annual index combines more than 100 data sets with a range of indicators including nature reserves, heritage open days, archaeological groups, blue plaques and pubs that have been given protection as community assets.

 

As well as inherited physical assets, the index measures new forms of heritage activity like community initiatives and volunteering.

 

Maureen Banner, chair of Culture Warrington, said: “It is fantastic that the hard work carried out by Culture Warrington and Warrington Borough Council over the last year to showcase the town’s heritage has been recognised by the RSA.

 

“As well as a hosting numerous heritage events over the last 12 months, we have worked with an artist and young carers in Warrington to design and install a huge mural on the side of one of Warrington’s most iconic buildings. This illustrates the town’s industrial heritage, iconic structures and infamous stories.

 

“As we look forward to 2017, we are also exploring a variety of funding options to make heritage more digitally available and are developing an exciting programme of activity to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the borough.”

 

Analysis of this year’s index reveals that places which do most with their heritage have a higher quality of life than areas which have low levels of activity.

 

After launching last year, the index has since been adopted as an official performance measure by the government in the recent Culture White Paper.

Culture Warrington Perception Survey

Culture Warrington Customer Survey

Please take a minute of your time to complete our Culture Warrington perception survey. We value your feedback and the information gathered from this short questionnaire will be used to enhance our service and the customer experience. Click on the link below to complete the survey:

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The survey answers are anonymous but if you would like to be entered into a free prize draw for the chance to win a family ticket to the pantomime Aladdin at Parr Hall in January, please complete your contact details.

Young carers design Pyramid mural to celebrate town’s heritage

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Children as young as eight who act as carers for their loved ones have seen their favourite images of Warrington’s heritage and culture spray-painted onto the side of one of the town’s most iconic buildings.

The youngsters meet regularly through Wired Young Carers for support and respite from their caring responsibilities and the sessions give them a chance to just “be kids” for a while.

About a dozen of these children, aged 8-15, have been channelling their creative energy into a new externally-funded project called Reflection of Warrington, a huge street art mural, to adorn the gable end wall of Pyramid arts centre at the corner of Museum Street and Winmarleigh Street.

Kat Lamey, young carer’s coordinator for Wired Young Carers, said the children were “really excited” about taking part in such a positive project which the whole town and its visitors will be able to enjoy.

She said: “The young carers involved had never taken part in anything like this before so were very excited about the project. They thoroughly enjoyed learning some of the more unusual facts about Warrington’s history.

“This has been a fantastic opportunity for them to be creative, learn new skills, make friends and work with a professional street artist.

“Young carers often take on responsibilities way beyond their years and can miss out on opportunities as a result, so to have their work displayed on such an eye-catching building in their home town will be an incredible achievement for this very special group of young people.

“It’s something they can be proud of.”

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The young carers took part in workshops organised by the mural project co-ordinators Spearfish Arts, a company which produces and facilitates projects like this around the region, where they learned about the town’s history and came up with ideas on what they wanted the artwork to feature.

Then renowned illustrator Will Barras, recommended by Spearfish Arts’ organiser Andrew Casserley as “a well-respected and well-known artist”, designed the mural which is now taking shape at Pyramid.

Will added: “This is one of the biggest murals I’ve done and it’s quite a big responsibility so it’s great that it’s been driven by the young people of Warrington.

“Working with the young carers has been brilliant because they’re so enthusiastic; doing stuff like this all the time you can take it for granted but it’s not something they would usually get to do so I hope it’s given them something to be proud of.

“And hopefully the rest of Warrington will like it too!”

The group decided on a diverse mixture of images including iconic structures such as the Golden Gates and the Barley Mow, famous faces like Jonathan Blackburne, the Lord of the Manor of Warrington famous for growing the North West’s first pineapple at Orford Hall, and the Mad Hatter’s tea party scene from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Scenes illustrating the town’s industrial heritage will also be featured alongside a depiction of the ill-fated RMS Tayleur which was built in Warrington.

The mural started to take shape at the Culture Warrington venue on Wednesday 26 October and the young carers came along to help Will paint on Friday 28.

Culture Warrington’s outreach and engagement manager Derek Dick was pleased to see the project coming to fruition.

He said: “Reflection of Warrington has given the children from Wired Young Carers a chance to become directly involved in the heritage of their home town and seeing their contribution to the work on such an iconic Warrington building will no doubt boost their confidence and sense of pride in their own abilities.

“This is one of a series of projects which Culture Warrington has undergone with youth groups and young people to raise their understanding and knowledge of their local history and heritage.

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“Another recent project involved working with the girls’ group from Warrington Youth Club who became the latest guest curators of Warrington Museum’s Cabinet of Curiosities.”

A planning application for installing the mural was approved by Warrington Borough Council at the end of September and Historic England had no objections in principle.

A spokesperson for Historic England said: “We welcome Culture Warrington’s plans for a heritage mural on the Grade II listed former county court, which is a key building in Warrington’s Palmyra Square.

“We are excited by the potential for the mural to better engage local people in their heritage and are looking forward to seeing the end result.”

Invitation to Culture Warrington AGM

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Culture Warrington warmly invites you to the fourth AGM which will be held at Pyramid Arts Centre on Thursday 10 November. The doors will open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. It is expected that the AGM will be closed at approx. 7.45pm.

A full agenda for the evening will be posted on this page soon.

If you would like to attend the AGM, please RSVP before Thursday 3 November by emailing rsvp@culturewarrington.org or by leaving a message at 01925 444282.

Open competition winners announced at packed festival launch

bex-ilsley-with-her-winning-entry-your-cities-will-shine-foreverThe winners of the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (WCAF) Open competitions were announced at a packed event to mark the launch on Friday.

Bex Ilsley won the open art competition with Your Cities Will Shine Forever featuring a wall-mounted installation and a virtual reality app viewed through a headset.

The piece is a self-portrait which also explores the predicament of living between the physical and virtual.

Bex said: “I am delighted to have won at the Open exhibition; it was totally unexpected and really took me by surprise.

“This type of opportunity is vital for artists at the beginning of their careers and I am beyond grateful because funding and awards are the only way I have to continue practicing at this stage.

“I’m buzzing to have my first solo show thanks to the WCAF judges and those at the Warrington museum. I will aim to do something out of this world.”

The runner-up was Peter Davis with his self-portrait entitled Face Furniture, an incredibly lifelike acrylic on board painting which caught the eye from across the room.peter-davis-with-his-runner-up-entry-face-furniture

The work explores the relationship between Peter’s glasses and his identity; they are how he sees the world and how the world sees him.

“For many years I have looked on in awe at the quality of work on show at the Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival,” he said. “But this is the first time I’ve entered the competition.

“Being chosen as a prize-winner by such eminent judges as Paulette Terry Brien and Laurence Lane from The International 3 is really incredible.”

The photography winner was Steve Deer’s The Birds which captured a dog-walker on a beach with the sky above filled with birds.

He said: “It’s great news and a huge surprise to win WCAF16 with my image The Birds, particularly as I was runner-up last year and the standards are so high.steve-deer-the-birds

“It was a lucky ‘grab’ shot taken on West Kirby beach as wading birds were disturbed by a dog-walker; I was just in the right place at the right time and was fortunate enough to have my camera to hand.”

Second place went to Emma Shaw for The Boathouse, a landscape shot of a wooden building on a lakeshore with a misty mountain backdrop.

The photo was taken in Tasmania but Emma was happy to receive feedback that it evoked thoughts of Wales and Scotland.

She said: “Above all it made the viewer want to visit the location; travelling is my passion, to discover innovative natural history subjects to share with others.

“I have to confess that I had no expectation of winning a prize. I’m proud to take the second prize, it has definitely encouraged me to attempt more photo competitions to gain recognition in the digital world and further my career.

“My photography is an important part of my life; I particularly enjoy the weekly photography class with Creative Remedies at Pyramid.”

The winner of the first young person’s prize, made possible thanks to sponsorship from Warrington Collegiate, was Rain Egan whose Untitled captured a low sun over a quiet train station.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager, judged the entries along with Paulette Terry Brien and Laurence Lane, directors of The International 3 art agents and gallery in Manchester.

He said: “We were really pleased to receive 360 entries, that’s about 100 more than in previous years, and the quality of the work was outstanding.

“The standard gets better and better every year and it was genuinely really difficult to choose the winners; there were so many excellent entries in the running.

“We hope to develop the young person’s prize in future years as I think it’s really important to nurture fresh talent.”

The winners each received £250 and a solo exhibition next year while the runners-up won a £100 cash prize.

The announcements were made in Warrington Museum & Art Gallery at the launch of the festival which drew in a crowd of over 370.

Visitors took part in a cultural crawl from The Gallery at Bank Quay House where the photography entries are on display, via Pyramid arts centre which features the work of Womanstanley and Matt Stokes, and on to the museum and art gallery where the art entries are exhibited alongside an installation by Clair Le Couteur.

Maureen Banner, Culture Warrington board chair, added: “This was a wonderful evening to celebrate the launch of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, one of the main highlights in the Culture Warrington calendar.

“It was brilliant to see so many people at the event keen to celebrate the best in Warrington’s contemporary arts and it was an honor to award the winners with their well-deserved prizes.

“The standard of work entered in the art and photography competitions was very impressive and I don’t envy those who had to choose between them.”

The exhibitions are free to visit and available to view until Saturday 29 October.

Young artists promote message of inclusion at Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival

womanstanley-5-smAn arts collective determined to make art more accessible and inclusive have unveiled two new exhibitions as part of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.

Womanstanley was founded by Sophie New from Warrington and Roxy Ball from Wigan who met at Leeds College of Art, and is based on a shared passion for bringing pop-up style art collective exhibitions to the North West.

Sophie, 26, said: “As an artist myself, I had felt there wasn’t a creative platform in Warrington that included me; I had also witnessed the despair of artists residing in the town who felt excluded or felt the town was lacking in creative energy, with people often leaving in search of something and taking their talents elsewhere.

“It is important to move with the times, make something happen, get up and build something.”

And build something they did. Womanstanley has flourished and there can now be up to 40 artists taking part in exhibitions.

The name Womanstanley derives from a quote by Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street when she and her husband Stanley kiss. He asks “what’s that lipstick taste of?” and she says “woman Stanley, woman!”

Sophie and Roxy liked the way the words rolled off the tongue and the link to their North West roots, as well as the use of humour.

“I feel it’s important to be approachable and down to earth when forming a group that can only exist with the commitment of other artists,” Sophie added. “The fact that the word is half ‘woman’ and half a typically male name is also kind of cool. It illustrates nicely that everyone’s welcome.”

The Coronation Street theme continues with the names of Womanstanley’s two exhibitions, Betty’s Hot Pot and The Making of Muriel, which are available to visit now at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and Pyramid respectively, until the close of the festival on Saturday 29 October.

Betty’s Hot Pot is a retrospective of the group’s work previously displayed at each of the three annual exhibitions, brought together in one collection for the first time.

Items include a handmade banner from the first ever Womanstanley exhibition by Abbi Hughes, Roxy Ball’s Hilda Ogden monoprint – a lucky charm at every show, photographs, posters and stills from their events, and plenty of new pieces which have never been seen in public before.

Muriel is an exhibition, due to go on display in Leeds next month, which will re-consider what ‘home’ really means in housing-crisis Britain. Methods and techniques will range from painting and embroidery to installation, sculpture and performance.

The Making of Muriel invites visitors to Pyramid to witness the artists creating work for the Muriel exhibition and encourages them to engage with members through an ‘open studio’ style exhibition.

The group has hosted exhibitions in a variety of places from friends’ apartments to Warrington Sports Club and Sophie admitted Womanstanley had never been part of anything like Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.

“Having the work hung in the museum and gallery is a turning point for us. It means we are being taken seriously by Culture Warrington and that is something we’re very happy about. We have a lot to give the town and for this to be recognised is very important.

“Having the open studios in the Pyramid for The Making of Muriel is also really exciting because many of us do not have access to studio space so being able to work alongside each other as we create something collaborative is really special.

“We’re excited about being exposed to new audiences who may not have heard of Womanstanley and maybe getting a few new members in the process. We’re constantly looking at how we can make new creative relationships and we hope this exhibition will enable that.”

What’s on at this year’s Contemporary Arts Festival

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival ready to launch

media-launchWarrington Contemporary Arts Festival will launch on Friday 30 September with the announcement of the open competition winners and a ‘cultural crawl’ tour of the venues.

This exciting event will give the public the chance to catch a first glimpse of entries to the contemporary opens in art and photography, displayed at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and The Gallery at Bank Quay House respectively, as well as the inaugural Warrington Collegiate Young Person’s Prize.

Artists aged 18 and under were invited to take part in this new category for the first time, thanks to kind sponsorship by the college, and the winners will be awarded a £150 prize at the launch.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager for Culture Warrington, said: “We’re really pleased to be including young artists in such a direct way in this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, and that’s thanks to Warrington Collegiate.

“We’re really passionate about making the festival as inclusive as possible and hopefully adding this new young person’s prize will encourage other budding artists and photographers to come along to the 2016 events and share their own work in future years.”

Warrington Collegiate is also sponsoring the work of internationally-recognised artist Matt Stokes who is exhibiting two moving-image works at the festival – Dance Swine Dance and Long After Tonight – which explore music subcultures and the way these provide a sense of collectivity, shaping and influencing people’s lives and identities.

Dance Swine Dance is a looped animation, projected at 16 Sankey Street from the festival launch until 28 October, which brings to life popular dance styles from the past 100 years.

And Long After Tonight, to be screened at Pyramid over the same period, features footage from a specially-organised Northern Soul event held in the nave of a Dundee church. The images of the dancers, surrounded by beautiful and ornate religious artefacts, create a connection between the location and the activity as expressions of faith, commitment and shared purpose.

Other highlights include a film screening of The Violators, the directorial debut of Warrington-born author Helen Walsh, best known for novels including The Lemon Grove, Once Upon a Time in England, and Brass.

This powerful and engaging drama, which follows a teenage girl who is rehoused on a sink estate after testifying against her abusive dad, has already garnered critical acclaim.

21,000 Miles of Rail is a theatre performance by Hannah Butterfield who attempts to unpack the rules of talking on trains and test the possibilities of chance encounters with strangers, and Third Angel’s 600 People, somewhere between stand-up comedy and an astrophysics lecture, asks if there are extra-terrestrials in our galaxy and explores what it means to be human.

Artist, researcher and composer Clair Le Couteur will ‘remix’ Warrington Museum & Art Gallery through photography and sculpture, and the members of art collective Womanstanley are taking part in two exhibitions including The Making of Muriel which explores the notion of home, reconsidering what the word really means in Britain under a housing crisis.

Maureen Banner, chair of the Culture Warrington board, said: “I’m delighted about the exhibitions and events taking place at the sixth annual Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.

“The launch night promises to be a great occasion to mark the opening of the month-long festival which celebrates the best of contemporary art, and I’m very excited to find out who’s won this year’s open competitions.”

The event on Friday 30 September begins at 6pm in The Gallery at Bank Quay House followed by a trail around the exhibitions and venues which are part of this year’s festival.

The open competition winners will be announced at 8pm in Warrington Museum & Art Gallery where speeches will also take place. Light refreshments will be available.

For further information and a complete guide to the festival, visit the official website

Icons of the 80s and Starsailor bring 4000 music fans to Warrington

nik-kershaw-sfMore than 4000 music fans descended on Warrington Town Centre this weekend to attend two incredible concerts which marked the opening weekend of this year’s Warrington Festival.

On Friday (16 September) Go West, Nik Kershaw and special guests, T’Pau came together as the Icons of the 80s for one special concert experience on Warrington’s Bank Park.

T’Pau opened the show playing some new material and their biggest hits; Heart and Soul and China in Your Hand, which spent five weeks at number one back in 1987.

Go West and Nik Kershaw came together to play an amalgamated set of their own hits including We Close Our Eyes and I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and also a number of rock and indie covers.

The crowd went wild for the 80s legends with many gig goers wearing leg warmers and tutus and waving neon glow sticks.

On Saturday (17 September), Warrington paid an official tribute to local band, Viola Beach who tragically lost their lives while on tour in Sweden earlier this year.

Starsailor, along with 13 regional artists, came together for an all-day music event on Bank Park.

Starsailor, who were performing their first outdoor headline set in Warrington, paid their own tribute to the band by performing one of their tracks, Swings and Waterslides.

carol-decker-from-tpauThe gig also included sets from Manchester indie four-piece, The Rainband who appeared at Glastonbury in June, PSYBLINGS, who played the Viola Beach celebration event at Parr Hall with The Coral and Courteeners earlier this year, and Ellie Dibben who was a support act at last year’s Warrington Festival alongside Viola Beach.

An exclusive video tribute to Viola Beach was also shown as part of the event with unseen footage of the band performing some of the tracks from their posthumous album, Viola Beach, which went to number one last month.

These two events launched a two week celebration of culture, sport and entertainment across the town which lasts until 2 October.

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival line-up announced

WCAF16WEBThe line-up for this year’s eagerly-anticipated Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival has been confirmed and there’s something to suit all tastes.

Whether you like film, theatre, art or photography, there are plenty of events to choose from during WCAF16 which takes place over a four-week period from Friday 30 September to Saturday 29 October.

Now in its sixth year, the festival provides an opportunity for the people of Warrington and further afield to engage with and experience the best in contemporary art and the 2016 programme includes live performances, exhibitions, talks and tours as well as the flagship art and photography open exhibitions.

Derek Dick, outreach and engagement manager, said: “We’ve got some really engaging events and exhibitions taking place as part of the 2016 Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival, which has built on the success of previous years.

“The festival brings together elements of film, theatre, art and photography in an eclectic mix which showcases the creative talent of local, regional, national and international artists.

“We’re also going to have live art performances and pop-up interventions by Warrington Collegiate and Edge Hill University to name a few.

“I’m really excited by what we’ve got planned, I hope the people of Warrington will be too!”

Among the highlights is a film screening of The Violators, the directorial debut of Warrington-born author Helen Walsh, best known for novels including The Lemon Grove, Once Upon a Time in England and Brass.

This powerful and engaging drama, which follows a teenage girl who is rehoused on a sink estate after testifying against her abusive dad, has already garnered critical acclaim.

21,000 Miles of Rail is a theatre performance by Hannah Butterfield who attempts to unpack the rules of talking on trains and test the possibilities of chance encounters with strangers, and Third Angel’s 600 People, somewhere between stand-up comedy and an astrophysics lecture, asks if there are extra-terrestrials in our galaxy and explores what it means to be human.

Artist and film-maker Matt Stokes will be presenting Dance Swine Dance and These are the Days as he explores musical subcultures and the way music provides a sense of collectiveness while artist, researcher and composer Clair Le Couteur will ‘remix’ Warrington Museum & Art Gallery through photography and sculpture.

Maureen Banner, chair of Culture Warrington, said: “There are so many interesting and exciting events taking place as part of this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival I can’t wait for it to get started.
“I hope the line-up will generate a real buzz about the town and people will take this opportunity to celebrate the best in contemporary art.”

The deadline for entry to the open competitions in art and photography has been extended to Friday 2 September.

For more information on the varied line-up or to enter the open competitions visit www.warringtonartsfestival.co.uk