Artisan market and art a winning combination in Kirkham

Kirkham’s new artisan market was hailed a huge success on the day a series of new artworks celebrating the town’s history were unveiled.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 5:11 pm

Torrential rain did not dampen the spirits of stallholders and shoppers as Lancashire Artisan Traders opened their first monthly market on the historic Market Square.

Stalls boasting items such as handmade gifts, fresh produce, craft gin, speciality cheese and sauces, pet foods, books and delicious pies and cakes drew large crowds throughout the day.

Joining the traders was Kirkham Cultural Consortium, which unveiled a series of interactive art installations around town as part of Kirkham’s status as one of Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones.

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Pete and Emma Yates from Bertie Chippington's Hot Sauce on their stall at the market
Pete and Emma Yates from Bertie Chippington's Hot Sauce on their stall at the market

The Cultural Consortium, which is made up of local residents and business people, was set up by Fylde Borough Council as part of Kirkham’s £10m regeneration masterplan to help develop a new cultural vision for the town.

The council is working closely with Historic England, Kirkham Town Council and partners to develop and deliver a number of regeneration schemes that will transform and restore disused and dilapidated buildings with new uses, help improve health and well-being restore local historic character and improve public realm.

Cliff Crabtree, who set up the Lancashire Artisan Traders group to showcase and celebrate local companies, said: “What a grand day everyone had – many people commented about how it was so good to be able to buy and support local trades.

“Feedback from stallholders was extremely positive with fantastic trading all day.

Artist Alex Blakey with one of the interactive installations

“Many traders commented on the very enthusiastic flow of customers and the Market Square being such a perfect location.

“All stalls are returning for next month’s market and other traders are asking to join.

“A good market grows by word of mouth.”

The artisan market will return to Kirkham every second Saturday of the month and next takes place on Saturday, August 14.

Charles Metcalf of Stable Veg at the market

Alongside the market on Saturday, Kirkham’s new historic artwork trail proved very popular.

For the past six months Kirkham’s Cultural Consortium has worked with artist Alex Blakey to create Kirkham Treasures – a series of community engagement projects – that have led to the design of a number of interactive art installations.

These included The Talking Wall which is made up of a series of images from Kirkham’s past that are linked to audio recordings of local people talking about a specific memory of Kirkham.

A series of Peep-Hole Boxes, each showing a different part of Kirkham’s story, have also been installed alongside The Passage of Time, a series of glasswork art created by the students of Carr Hill High School, while Kirkham Grammar School students created Kirkham Through Time – a map celebrating locations and stories of Kirkham’s past.

Over the next fortnight, local residents and visitors are encouraged to take part in The Kirkham Quest where they can tour the town, view the artwork and answer questions that could win them one of three £50 local shopping vouchers.

Entry forms can be downloaded from kirkhamtreasures.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Kirkham-Quest-updated.pdf

Helen Juste, Kirkham Cultural Consortium’s cultural producer, said: “It was a brilliant day and wonderful to see so many local people come out and enjoy the art installations.

“Saturday was the culmination of six months hard work by the local community, schools and artist Alex Blakey. The artwork created is truly interactive – none more so than the Talking Wall – and so it was great to see local people visiting it to hear stories about the town’s heritage.

“There is still plenty of time to take part in the Kirkham Quest, which is a really fun way to learn more about Kirkham and its wonderful history.”

Saturday marked the successful end of the Cultural Consortium’s six-month Hight Street Heritage Action Zone pilot project. Now, thanks to a new £80,000 Historic England grant, the Consortium’s work can be widened to create far more creative opportunities over the next three years.

Artist Alex Blakey said: “Throughout the project I have worked closely with the community running workshops and talking to individuals to gather stories and create artwork.

“It has been great to hear first-hand the stories of people living and working in Kirkham. Their shared memories of Kirkham's past have all helped to contribute to The Talking Wall. Interviewing people from the town it became clear what a vibrant history the area has.

“It has also been fantastic working with students from Kirkham Grammar and Carr Hill High to produce the Kirkham Through Time map and the glass work. All the students from both schools were enthusiastic and created some wonderful works of art.”

For more information about the Kirkham Treasures project visit kirkhamtreasures.co.uk

If you are interested in joining Kirkham Cultural Consortium, or if you are an artist who would like to join an artist collective which could see your work displayed and sold locally, contact [email protected]

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