Participatory and Community Arts Group

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Voices: Prestoning Micro-Commision

Bernie Velvick, Gabrielle Bowers, Judith Rowan, Fiona Cheetham and ND


1.What do you like best about art and culture in Preston. Things you take part in or like to go and see.

2.What do you like least - is there anything that annoys you or you think could be done better.

3.Is there anything you would like to see happening in the future? How could things change to include you more in Preston's cultural life.


Gabrielle Bowers

For such a small place I think Preston has a good arts and culture scene. The Harris is one of my favourite places to go to see the art (as it is with many I suspect) – but there can also be art found around other areas in town – such as in the Larder (where they do small exhibits) or up at UCLAN where they feature the work of both students and visiting artist. I think there is good diversity within the community and through festivals that celebrate this we are further exposed to different types of art. As I said on the phone, for me Preston is a quite change from busy life, and it’s easy to escape the rush of life when we visit somewhere like the Harris. I also love seeing some of the beautiful old buildings around town, even the ones that are derelict, because they show both artistic vision, as well as give us a glimpse of the past manifested in real life.

I feel that there isn’t an appreciation for what art Preston does have to offer. I suppose part of this is due to the size of the town, as well as the face there isn’t a huge art scene. But I always find it a shame when I see people would rather sit on benches on the high street on their lunch breaks, as opposed to going into the gallery. Despite there being diverse communities, there could be more representation, as I feel that this would allow people to have a better understanding of other cultures (something I don’t think a lot of people have).

I would like to see a stronger art scene in Preston, one which maybe relates more to the younger generation. It would also be nice to see some more representation of lesser known local artists, as I always love to see art which is inspired by a community or area.

Judith Rowan

I rarely visit Preston – my lack of stamina and parking is a problem. I like the Harris because it’s wheelchair accessible and there is a good lift, decent sized, (not a cupboard).

It’s generally access or lack of it that’s the problem. On the rare occasions I’ve visited a Harris travelling exhibition, I’ve not enjoyed it.  It’s been too abstract. I do enjoy seeing the glassware and ceramics. I’d like to see ethnic costume, textile art, felting. I wish we had a portrait gallery- because then you see the costume and the person, as I have a strong interest in history.

As for inclusion - I think being involved like this is great, to be contributing even in a small way helps me be connected. I’m also involved in a creative writing project at the Lancashire archives, for the same reason.

Fiona Cheetham

My favourite Arts and Culture is Harris Museum because I have done events + joined groups for Autism Groups + Silver art Award + bronze art award with Kyra Milnes. I like pottery and photograph exhibitions. I like Blackburn Museum too, with art n craft + exhibitions.

I like having personal assistants working with me to help out with art n craft. I need help with personal assistant (to) taking me out.

I want to do different art + craft events + I want to set different doodling works in the future. Jewellery + beads + necklaces. Art is mostly what I’m good at, it’s my favourite thing to do and fun.

Bernie Velvick

I like bumping into people at events, it helps me feel connected.

Committed passionate people

Art events are not always fully accessible.

I never want to hear the words “I didn’t know that was happening!” ever again.

More regular activities that people can be part of.

Lots of variety to appeal to lots of different people.

ND chose not to include text with her doodles


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The motivation for this collaborative artwork developed when two local groups who support people with disabilities forwarded the Prestoning micro-commission brief to Bernie Velvick independently. She embraced the chance to include more voices in Preston’s cultural strategy and to design an inclusive project appropriate to the current situation. Through a callout from Mel Close at DENW (Disability Equality North West) Bernie found 4 women who wanted to collaborate with the initial ideas she proposed.  We used phone conversations, postal sharing of artwork, What’sApp group for sharing pics of developing ideas, and email for file sharing as the process developed. We all made doodles with text printed on the back. Some people answered the questions Bernie asked, some talked about their own experience.