Throughout my project Looking Back|Moving Forwards which was kindly supported by Arts Council England, Blackpool Council and UcLan, I have had a number of crits and meetings with curators, such as Kerry Harker and Claire Gannaway. These have been held at both my studio and the final  exhibition at the Grundy Art Gallery, and have been really useful in helping me consider approaches and ways to move forward with my practice. I have also held crit’s with my peers at Rogue studios, Manchester and also artist friends from other cities. A few weeks back, I had a studio crit with artists Nicola Dale and Susie MacMurray, which was really useful, we chatted about the architecture I explore in my work, and ideas of restoration in my work. Susie interestingly commented that even though I am restoring parts the architecture, the work looks new, although communicates a language of the past also.

During my project, I have also had a series of meetings with a marketing mentor, Jennifer Dean. These have been really helpful, as it has helped me consider how I am presenting myself online, through marketing, and also through 1-1 interactions in a lot more depth. We went through my website, social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as my mailing list. We also talked about the importance of sending out a regular newsletter, to keep people informed of what you are involved in, things like building up your mailing list with organisations and individuals specific to your research interests. This has been really important in starting and maintaining relationships which has given me opportunities for after the project, as well as really useful discussions.

Jennifer also helped me with writing press releases for each of the events within the project. We also talked changing the language of the press release for the receiving audience, and how important it is to write a personalised email rather than sending out a massive mail out to people you hope may speculatively be interested in your work. Her was invaluable and will help me with future projects over the next year.


Last week, Grundy Art Gallery hosted the event ‘The Legacy of Seaside Moderne’, where I talked about my work and research in relation to Seaside Moderne architecture, and invited speakers Professor Fred Gray, photographer Stephen Marland and Blackpool historian to present their research into various aspects of 1930s architecture. The event was kindly chaired by Grundy curator, Richard Parry. We had attendees from afar afield as Leicester, as well as local people from Blackpool, Morcambe, Manchester and Preston, including people who work in private and public tourist industries on the Fylde coast.

I spoke about my 18 month research and development project, Looking Back| Moving Forwards, kindly supported by Arts Council England, Blackpool Council and UcLan.  I discussed my research trips to sites across North West England and Scotland into 1930s seaside modernist architecture, as well as corresponding archival research.  I then spoke about work I made for the test bed project at In Certain Places, Preston in March, and the current exhibition, ‘An Architecture of Joy’ at The Grundy Art Gallery (until 13th August 2016).

Professor Fred Gray, author of Designing the Seaside, spoke about 1930s architecture and the Cult of the Sun. Gray outlined the origins of the attraction to bathing at the seaside, and the high point of outdoor architecture on the coast during the 1930s. He discussed the promotional material used by the local tourist boards. Below you can see a painting commissioned to be used to promote Blackpool in the 1930s, which is quite different to the photograph of the same beach during the same period.

Blackpool historian, and Blackpool Winter Gardens and Pleasure Beach archivist spoke about Art and Design at the Pleasure Beach from its redesign in the 1930s by Joseph Emberton. The presentation including fascinating images of designs, as well as buildings and decoration which have since been destroyed.

Photographer Stephen Marland shared his photographs of visits to 1930s architecture in the South Coast, predominantly, Marine Court in St Leonards, Hastings, Bexhill on Sea and Pevensey. You can see more of Marland’s beautiful photography and writing on his blog here

Following the presentations we held an in conversation between the panelists, and then the audience, where we discussed the legacy of this architecture on the coast, and how it can offer heritage appeal to tourists, how ‘holidaymaking’ has changed over the decades and how this has altered seaside tourism today.

Presentations and the discussion will soon be available on Sound Cloud.


Looking Back | Moving Forward 
In Certain Places Project Space, Preston
Opening Tuesday 15th March 5-7pm, continues until 24th March 2016

Looking Back | Moving Forward will show new sculptures and drawings by artist Jenny Steele from her recent research project, which has investigated Seaside Moderne architecture across the North West of England and Scotland.

Seaside Moderne was a style of modernist architecture built in the 1930s between World War I and World War II, during the mid-war leisure boom.  During the 1930s, everyday workers were newly allocated annual holidays in the United Kingdom, and used these to travel to the seaside to enjoy themselves away from everyday work toils. Palaces of fun, such as the Blackpool Casino and The Midland Hotel were built to house swathes of people, offering a glamorous place to relax within uplifting and optimistic design.

Jenny Steele has created new work specifically designed for the In Certain Places Project Space, which reflects on the design of the The Midland Hotel, Morecambe, The Blackpool Opera House, The Carron Restaurant and Outdoor Swimming Pool, Stonehaven.

LOOKING BACK|MOVING FORWARD is kindly supported by Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England, University of Central Lancashire and Johnstone’s Paint.

Open Event: Tuesday 15th March 2016  5-7pm

Viewing times:
Wednesday 16th- Thursday 17th March 11-5pm
Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd & Thursday 24th March 11-5pm

Other viewing times by appointment, and for further information please email: [email protected]

In Certain Places
38 St Peter’s Street
University of Central Lancashire

In Certain Places is a 15 minute walk from Preston Rail Station.


Last Thursday I visited New Brighton, which is part of Wallasey, on The Wirral to meet the owner of the New Brighton Palace and take a look round the building.

New Brighton is a short train ride from Liverpool Lime Street on the Wirral line. The train network is very extensive across The Wirral and takes you to towns as far as West Kirkby and Hoylake. The railway lines allowed people to travel from the larger city of Liverpool, to seaside towns such as New Brighton when people were allowed holidays or days off.  However, since the 1970’s onwards, less people have travelled to these seaside resorts and favoured holiday destinations abroad. Subsequently, a lot of these towns fell into decline as there was less tourism to support the local economy.

New Brighton, however, did not currently feel run down at all, it was very well maintained and clean, and it rather more felt like an extension of Liverpool with shore front restaurants such as Prezzo and Pizza Express in a redevelopment area on the front built in 2011. Walking down from the New Brighton station in the other direction, there are some vintage style cafes and locally run restaurants.

When leaving New Brighton station, I initially walked along the promenade to the left to have a look at the distinctly ‘seaside moderne’ seaside shelters.  There are three – one positioned on it’s own to the back of the promenade’s grassland which is an electricity sub station, and two that are paired together on each side of an entrance road to the promenade road.  Of the paired shelters – one is circular in form and containing toilets, and the second across the road is more oval in design and only holds sheltered seating.

I cannot find any information as yet to the architect or build date regarding these shelters, if you do know anything please do get in touch.

Further back towards the shopping area, there is an electricity sub station, again in this curved ‘seaside moderne’ style.

Although most likely built in the 1960s, there is waster water station (below) nearer the rail station which is a striking building and provides very clever private areas for seating around the outside for members of the public.

And lastly, there are beautifully sculptural concrete sea defences to see as you walk along the promenade.

(This is a repost from Looking Back|Moving Forward)