ixia: public art think tank

ixia has taken over the ownership and management of Public Art Online from Arts Council England. The design and content of the website are currently being reviewed.

Bookmark and Share

Harris Flights: Stairway to the Arts

Date uploaded: July 17, 2013

Harris Flights: Stairway to the Arts
Architectural intervention & festival
17th August – 15th September 2013

The usual modus operandi for museums and art galleries is that artworks are contained within the gallery. A new commission by In Certain Places turns this on its head as the gallery becomes part of the art.

Since 2006, In Certain Places has transformed city spaces through a series of temporary public artworks and events, which examine how artists can contribute to the development of a city.

This year they are working with architects Research Design to create an architectural intervention - a dramatic temporary staircase known as the Harris Flights that will transform the façade of the iconic Grade 1 Listed, Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston’s city centre.

Open for four weeks from the 17th August, the Harris Flights will enable people to move directly from the space of the Market Square into the heart of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery through a new ‘front door’ and vice-versa.

In creating the work, research focused on the relationship between the frontage of the neo-classical Harris Museum & Art Gallery (opened 1893) and the Market Square in front of it.

The unique architecture of the building – with a podium plus side entrances to the building instead of a front entrance, creates the perception of a barrier, making an audience seem to be architecturally divorced from the interior of the museum when standing in the square.

University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Professor Charles Quick, co-curator of In Certain Places, adds: “There has often been debate locally about the navigation of the building, where the entrance is and whether the original design was to include steps. This is coupled with a desire to have access to the podium, and to share the opportunity to see Preston from the viewpoint of the privileged few.”

Charlie MacKeith of Research Design and Charles Quick of In Certain Places worked with the original plans of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery drawn by its architect James Hibbert. They also researched the buildings which are said to have influenced the original design, such as the Konzerthaus concert hall, Berlin and the National Gallery, London in order to create a temporary extension that would be sympathetic to Hibbert’s original design.

Festival of art, culture and community
As well as being a place to socialise, the Harris Flights will become a focal point for live performances, contemporary art installations, workshops, demonstrations and talks by artists, community groups and academics/students from UCLan. It will become in turn a stage, and at other times a stadium from which to watch events taking place on Market Square.

As part of a month-long programme of events that will showcase the richness of Preston’s cultural offer, there will be specially commissioned work that will animate and respond to the Harris’ diverse collections, bringing the museum out into the open air.

A flavour of the work already commissioned:

  • Horse + Bamboo: Port of Preston – a fun interactive walkabout theatre piece highlighting the history of Preston Docks
  • Ludus Dance: What Once Was, But is No More - two new dances by Ludus’ Preston Youth Co. and Ludus Youth Co. responding to the history contained within the walls, the fleeting nature of Harris Flights, and unusual places & spaces
  • Bluestreak Arts: Visio - a new original theatrical intervention inspired by the stories, archives, heritage & collections of the Harris.

More commissions will be announced during July.

Click here to visit the Harris Museum & Art Gallery website.

Artist’s impression of the Harris Flights

Artist’s impression of the Harris Flights