When you visit a museum or art gallery, you normally go inside to see the exhibitions. Harris Flights aims to turn that on its head by making the gallery part of the art.
A new commission by In Certain Places will see a dramatic temporary staircase, known as the Harris Flights, transform the façade of the iconic Grade 1 Listed Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston’s city centre.
Open for four weeks from the 17 August, the Harris Fights will enable people to move directly from the space of the Flag Market into the heart of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery through a new ‘front door’ and vice-versa.
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, UCLan and community groups. It will become a stage and at other times a stadium from which to watch events taking place on the Flag Market.
A flavour of the work already commissioned includes:
Horse + Bamboo: Preston at Sea
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.
A new original theatrical intervention inspired by the stories, archives, heritage & collections of the Harris.
Lots more acts to be announced over the next few weeks!
Councillor Tom Burns, Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said:
“The Harris Flights is the centrepiece of Preston’s summer programme and, as such, will see artists and performers bring the museum’s collections to life in the open air.
Community Sundays throughout the month will showcase the talents of local groups celebrating Preston’s rich and diverse culture .
The mix of dance, music and artistic performances will create a buzz in the city and provide something for everyone to enjoy. I, for one, cannot wait to sit on the steps, eat lunch and relax in the sunshine.”
Why create a staircase?
The unique architecture of the building – with a balcony and side entrances to the building instead of a front entrance – creates the perception of a barrier, making visitors seem detached 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, added:
“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 balcony, and to share the opportunity to see Preston from the viewpoint of the privileged few.”
Harris Flights is generously supported by Arts Council England, Preston City Council and University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Harris Flights was commissioned by In Certain Places working in partnership with Research Design. It is supported and programmed by the partnership of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston City Council and UCLan.