This blog documents the development of Transit of Venus, a project by David Henckel, which has been commissioned by In Certain Places. David is one of five artists selected to create new artworks in response to the city of Preston, which will be presented as part of the Guild celebrations in September 2012 – an historic event that takes place once every twenty years. For more information, visit


In Certain Places Presentation and The Preston Beer Festival.

Quite a succesful day presenting our ideas to a panel which included Charles Quick and Elaine speight from In Certain Places, Clarissa Corfe from the Castfiled Gallery, Ruth McCullough from AND festival, Stella Hall who is director for Preston Guild and Paul Kelly, Arts Development officer for Lancashire County Council.

I was a bit nervous and frazzled from a few late nights preperation but my project seemed to go down well. I’d come armed with beer so that they could all try some and give feedback on a form which will be part of the project archive kept in the timecapsule trophy.

I really enjoyed listening to everyone elses plans which included a bit of performance from Hannah and Jeni who acted as tour guides in front of the Gates of Paradise in the Harris museum.

It was a shame no one was able to stick around for drinks afterwards as it was the first night of the Preston Beer festival, and the Transit of Venus IPA’s first public outing.

Unfortunately it hadn’t settled properly and so didn’t get drunk that evening.

I spent a large part of the night trying to find a beer I liked and ended up in a fine curry house with 2 other artists.. so not too dissapointing.

On the Saturday of the festival they decided to put the beer on anyway and in Neils word “it was flattened” – This is a good thing!

Weirdly about 2 days later one of barrels in the Real Ale Shop cleared and I was able to take my good friend Jim along to try some. We had a small sampling of each of Arkwright’s Ales and then 2 swift halves of Transit Ale before staggering home.. It tasted really good and I was excited that we would be selling some in The Continental (one of the finest pubs in Preston by the River Ribble next to Avenham park)

Well, its not cleared.. apparently this is to do with the proteins and not the yeast.. so its perfectly drinkable. Neil says its a bit like a wheat beer and that in the 1700’s they wouldn’t of worried about being able to see through it.

So I’ve designed a new pump clip on Gary the cellarmans reccomendation that celebrates the cloudiness. This first batch is now called 1769 – the date columbus sailed to Tahiti.

I’ll be checking up on it this weekend to see how its going down.

I’ve also been helping out with a bit of design and marketing for Arkwright’s brewery and redesigned their logo and labels/pump clips for their beer.

We are going to have a tasting event on the 27th April which will be part of the North West Visual Arts Open 2012.

The next batch of Transit Ale is being brewed this week and Neil and John reckon that Jim the brewer has tweaked the recipe so that it should clear properly.


Finished the poster for The Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition.

Also had a taste of the beer which is fermenting at the moment. Its already tasting good and fruity so we are hoping its going to be a tasty beer when its ready.


All the ingredients have arrived and I’ve been nipping in and out of the Real Ale shop helping out with the brewing process.

I’ve managed to set the date for The inaugral Transit of Venus Real Ale competition. 3pm Monday 4th June in the school grounds of the CofE primary school in Much Hoole. They are having an event called “Band in the Park” and kindly allowed me to join the celebrations.

Put an advert in Ale Cry. the West Lancashire CAMRA magazine which goes out to most pubs. so hopefully we’ll get quite a few entries.

Mashing the Malt with John from Arkwright’s


Had a great meeting on Thursday night with Charles and Elaine from In Certain Places to discuss how the project is going.

Here’s a quick run down of where I’m at.

– Brewing a 7.1% IPA early next week which should be ready for The Preston Beer Festival (15th March – 19th March)

– Contacted CAMRA about the project and also Northern Craft Brewers

– discussing the idea of a Science Bar which will be open for the duration of the Guild, this would be the perfect setting for a TOV ale. We are planning a series of events for the bar. Lectures, Chemistry magic shows, films, bands. The idea is inspired by the History of the Univesrity and its timeline going back to Horrocks. Especially the Society for The Diffusion of knowledge

– Whilst thinking about how to archive the recipe I decided its probably more interesting and engaging to run a Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition

The Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition

I love the idea that I’ll never know if its recreated – but would like to give it a good chance.
So the new idea is to have a Transit of Venus Real Ale Competition. The winner will have their name engraved on a special trophy (reminiscent of 70’s pub Darts Trophies – my Nana had a few). The Trophy will have small metal plaques with the dates for the next 1000 years worth of transits with space for future winners.
The central column will be like a time capsule and the winning recipes will be stored there. I invisage that the Trophy will be on display either at the Harris Museum fro the duration of the Preston Guild 2012 in September or at The Science Bar – I am in discussions with The Continental pub and They Eat Culture as collaborators.

In relation to the Real Ale competition I was wondering if it could be held in Much Hoole – some of the residents could be on the judging panel? I can’t decide if the competition should be on June 5th or earlier. I’d like the winning ale to be professionally produced and it could be 1 of 3 ales in the box set.

– whilst being shown around the temperance society archives I realised that what stands out are the objects – I was shown Joseph Livesys football rattle. This was also the case at The Harris when I was shown some material relating to Moses Holden. So it seems only right that to stand any chance of setting up a tradition that there is an object and its made of something that won’t perish and that the object contains the information.


I’ve been speaking to a guy in the USA – Chuck Bueter who is producing a real ale for the TOV as well,

He collaboarted with a brewery for the tRansit in 2004 and is also making a wine and a coffee which will be called The Black Drop.

I’d mentioned to him about using The Black Drop Effect as a name for one of the TOV ales (considering making 3)

The website that he posts on, which is edited by Steven Van der Roode) has an amazing archive of transit observations around the world.

I wonder if all these places would like to buy our beer?