ST HELENS DAY CITIZENS' PARADE
As anyone who has lived or spent any amount of time in St Helens will know, the borough has a vivid identity rooted in coal, glass, rugby, pharmaceuticals and Johnny Vegas. For this project, celebrating 150 years of the borough, we wanted to hear more about the alternative story of the town and celebrate its Unsung Heroes.
We set up shop in the town centre and turned an old branch of Santander into Parade HQ. Lowri painted the windows, we hung up glitter curtains and put a Mariah Carey quote on the door to ward off evil. Open during June 2018, the door was open for anyone to come in, help out with the parade or talk to us about who really keeps the borough afloat.
In the shop and across the borough, we worked with community groups who all made artwork and nominated their own Unsung Hero whose portrait they would carry through the streets on parade day. In libraries, we held drop in warm-up sessions to prepare for mass karaoke and in the town centre, blackboards filled up with names and dedications to Unsung Heroes, written by people passing by.
On parade day, there was a heatwave, there was a Mayor in a rickshaw and despite there being no photographic evidence, there were two police horses. Our collaborating community groups walked in the sunshine, accompanied by a youth brass band, a samba band, a drum group and flanked by a fleet of vehicles from the North West Museum of Road Transport. In the town square, there were speeches, there was mass karaoke, there was music from DJ MRSBAXTER2U and a very special signed performance from Happy Hands, a parent and child group for families who experience deafness or communication difficulties. The portraits of the Unsung Heroes were installed for the day on the steps of St Helens Parish Church and will be made part of a forthcoming legacy project.
With thanks to Autism & Asperger Society, Autism Friendship Group, Bold Forest Junior Parkrun, Chain Lane Rainbows, Change Grow Live, Derbyshire Hill Family Centre, FANS at the Perth Centre, Happy Hands, Newton Boys & Girls Club, Newton-le-Willows Knit and Natter, Portico Nursery, Trapwood Community Centre, UC Crew, St Helens Mini Police, Thatto Heath Crusaders, Shaping Futures, St Helens Fire Cadets, Rainford Youth Brass Band, Business For Youth Samba Band and North West Museum of Road Transport.
Shop open: 8th- 30th June 2018
Parade: Saturday 30th June 2018
Commissioned and produced by Heart of Glass. Supported by St Helens Council and Arts Council England.
Project Producers for Heart of Glass: Suzanne Dempsey-Sawin, Rhyannon Parry and Angharad Williams
Parade Design: Cathy Cross
Visual Art Team: Rebecca Ainsworth, Grace Herron, Kate Hodgson, Vari Kenny, Naoise Martin
Church Square Stage Manager: Amy Chandler
All at Heart of Glass
Images: Stephen King for Heart of Glass
Trailer: Luca Rudlin at People Staring