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New Art Commission for Lancashire

Wednesday, 17th August 2016

Following a call for artist submissions, Marketing Lancashire has appointed renowned environmental artist Steve Messam, to create four new works that will link four key cultural events taking place across Lancashire this autumn. 

This commission is part of a wider cultural tourism project funded by Arts Council England’s National Lottery Funded Grants for the Arts Programme, which sees Marketing Lancashire and leading stakeholders including Arts Lancashire, Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council, working together to establish Lancashire’s cultural offer as one of the leading reasons to visit the county. 

Justina Ma, Business Manager from Marketing Lancashire, commenting on the project said “Marketing Lancashire is working with cultural organisations from all over Lancashire to develop and showcase the cultural tourism offer for visitors. Steve’s commission, linking a collection of distinctive cultural events, through a new twist on the Lancashire red rose, will help highlight the county’s new cultural narrative which forms part of a wider strategy to grow visitor numbers and attract investment.”  

The original call for submissions invited artists to respond to the character, values and distinctiveness of Lancashire; to create a bold, innovative and cohesive idea that would link the four different cultural events taking place in Preston, Blackburn, Lancaster and Blackpool. 

Steve Messam’s site-specific installations provide strong visual accents in rural or urban settings, often located in unexpected locations that challenge preconceptions of contemporary arts practice. 

His winning idea, entitled When The Red Rose, is a series of temporary, site-specific installations; a rising tide of the colour red taking the county’s historic symbol of Lancashire and by a twist of language transforming it into a moment in time.  Each installation, subtitled accordingly, abstracts this familiar symbol of the county and creates something new and surprising. Just as the piece itself transforms a familiar place into something unexpected and unique. 

The first of the installations, will appear as part of Lancashire Encounter, a bold and imaginative spectacle of performance, music, street theatre, art and creativity taking place in Preston from 23- 25 September.    

The Red Rose will be located in Preston’s Surgeon’s Court, transforming the often overlooked historic narrow alleyway, with an installation of over 4,000 bright red balloons. Changing something everyday and inconspicuous into a thing of wonder.  The balloons will fill the space between the buildings for the entire length of one block - from Fox Street to Lune Street and will be illuminated at night.  

Preston Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “The Lancashire Encounter programme is a fantastic mix of performances and experiences from artists and groups across Lancashire and Steve’s Red Rose installation is an exciting addition. 

“The red rose symbol of Lancashire is widely recognised and this unique installation will bring Surgeon’s Court – an often forgotten part of the city – to life.” 

The three remaining installations will be linked to: the 200th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, taking place in Blackburn in October in association with Super Slow Way; Blackpool Council’s LightPool, as part of Blackpool Illuminations 2 September – 6 November, with the exact dates for the artwork to be confirmed; and Light Up Lancaster on 4 & 5 November. 

For more information on these and a whole range of cultural events this autumn go to 


For Media enquiries please contact:

Anna Izza, Head of PR and Communications   01772 426 459

Laura Crabb, PR and Communications Executive 01772 426 456


Notes to Editors

  1. Marketing Lancashire is the Destination Management Organisation (DMO) for Lancashire, established (1st April 2012).   Our activities in marketing and communications, commercial membership and place marketing are all designed to grow the visitor economy and develop the profile of Lancashire as the first choice destination to visit, live, study, work and invest in.

Lancashire attracts over 63 million visitors who contribute £3.6 billion to the local economy and help support over 56 thousand jobs. 

  1. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

  1. For more information on each of the events please visit:

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For more information, practical advice and support, call Marketing Lancashire on:

01772 426450.