Rochdale Town Hall

Earlier in 2022 Rochdale Town Hall ran an open call for artists commissions, this proposal was put forward from Alison Little.

Rochdale Town Hall

Bright Hall Commission

Expression of Interest

Alison Little is a North-West based Arts Practitioner, her work transcends the creative sector. Her initial arts commissions within the public realm bridges with workshop practice accelerated with the 2008 European Capital of Culture program held within Liverpool. During this year she successfully gained four major public art commissions, progressing to more commissions and the project management of Rags Boutique.

Rag Boutique involved the design and regeneration of the disused retail space. In this she was to curate the exhibition pieces and look towards engaging participants from those passing by or on route to other designations. The layout of the interior space was necessitated for workshops and a final catwalk event. The room dynamics were to change for drop in activities at the weekend. Environmentalism was core to the project. All the exhibits were made from reclaimed materials and extended to highlight the sustainability of fashion.

The predecessor to Rags Boutique was a medium term arts project ‘The Trash Army’ ran for a local youth group. ‘The Trash Army’ was established to coincide with the opening of the Gladstone Conservatory in Stanley Park, Anfield. She worked with the group to create a collection of suits embellished with little and highlighting the potential of easy compossible materials. Some little had been collected from the streets of North Liverpool, other items had been saved from the perils of landfill which was the only waste disposal facility of the decade. The highlight of the event accumulated at the opening event for the Conservatory, the youth participants clad in a variety of litter based costumes, a pelicanese teenager taking centre stage.

Rags Boutique, the workshops developed into a mask making activity program, repurposing single-use plastic bags. She regularly holds workshops for the Liverpool Irish Festival held at the Liverpool Museum on the Waterfront. Last year’s event in October was particularly well attended in terms of mask making, the workshop was overwhelmed by little makers after the arts activity droughts imposed by the covid lockdowns. The most recent booking was for the Super Slow Way in Burnley. Floating on the waters of the Leeds Liverpool Canal a range of masks were created around the theme of insects and animals which find habitat around the banks of our canals. Bumble-Bee’s and Badger flourished and the event was a creative triumph.

Commencing in 2016, Alison worked with others to establish the Liverpool Independent School of Art (LIAS). The art school held a range of adult based workshops and short courses. Alison’ initial workshops focused on hand embroidery, one taking place on the remote wilds of Hilbre Island. This led to a regular animal art class which expanded dramatically until the enforced lock-downs of covid. 

A significant proportion of Alison’ visual arts practice centres around the theme of sexual violence and mental health. The most recent installation; All the Fun of the Fair, was located opposite the Bombed Out Church in Liverpool City Centre. Each item presented within the installation represents either something which has, or potentially could have taken place. Full details can be found at:

She is interested in developing these art generating processes further, working with groups to create themed collections which can be photographed in assemblage to create an art piece.

Alison was a leading force in Arts Hub, a collective established in Lark Lane, Liverpool then moving to nearby Aigburth Road. Through this she sold various craft ranges, many of which used reclaimed materials, ‘Rubbish Cards’ being a great success. Running the shop through a regular weekly shift helped to establish the collective within Liverpool and the creative community.

Numerous hand painted large scale commissions have been worked on by the artist since the creative apex of the capital of culture year, including a racehorse in Cheltenham. A particular highlight was a medium sized lambanana for an anfield based nursery where the preschoolers were able to stencil on a range of services which fell under the Sure Start umbrella. 

Prior to the pandemic Alison ran her own sign making company and frequently worked with large format graphics for vinyl production. She has recently re-trained in 3D computer modelling based around Unity software. High-end digital technique which can be used within the commission.

Credentials with the reclaimed and workshop practice can unite, working with a range of groups to produce high level artwork for the panels of the Brightroom.

Alison Little

Rochdale Town Hall

Bright Hall Commission


The workshops are to be set around a variety of themes of relevance to; Rochdale, the Town Hall and its Citizens. Each concept to be directed towards a youth group or community project who would benefit more from work of that nature. The outcome of the workshop to be determined by the participants but directed by the workshop leader. The use of photography for vinyl production to be commonplace. There are to be 8 themes for 8 panels: the Bright family, Gothic Revival, the Gothic Novel, Rochdale Pioneers, Fire of 1883, Former location of Police and Courts, Rochdale Canal and Local Dialect. 

The workshop program and commissions to be accompanied by a printed publication. To be distributed for free from the town hall and other public and cultural venues throughout Rochdale. The publication to expand upon the workshops held and the creative outpourings of the program. An array of images printed alongside printed reproductions of artworks.

The Bright Family

The Bright Family introduced textiles manufacture and weaving to Rochdale on an immense scale. Warf and weft were produced then dispersed to be woven at home on hand  looms. Workers were paid by the piece produced, the concept of an hourly rate remiss. Workshops held to identify this with how the pandemic has initialised a shift towards home working and if this is likely to remain a major force within late capitalism.

We would look to work with a textiles based adult group or a cohort simulated by the notion of a weaving project. The workshop leader to introduce the practical aspects of hand weaving, including the anatomy of a loom. Expanding on how modern day technology can be used for weaving on higher demand and how this can be introduced on a grass-routes level. Participants to be introduced to the work of leading UK based weavers: Daniel Harris, Shielagh Tacey and Sophie Roet, in particular. An early highlight being an excursion to either: Art in the Pen, Yarndale or the Great Northern Craft fair, all within 50 miles of Rochdale. 

The group would then work towards producing hand woven items to sell at a contemporary craft event, potentially organised at Rochdale town hall to coincide with the re-opening ceremony. Weavers to be introduced to varying techniques: adding cross stitch, incorporating fabric, to produce a variety of; wall hangings, soft furnishings and accessories. 

Workshop leeder to work with the participants to enable them to acquire the knowledge to start up in business as crafts people. In this we identify production costs in terms of materials and the greater aspect concerning ‘Handmade’ the time commitment. Participants to be introduced to the cost implications of fairs and various avenues of advertising. The craft fair event allows the participants a taster into the potential to earn money within the craft sector.

The artwork for the panel consists of photography of either all, or some of the goods woven for the fair. Caution to be taken around presentation to ensure that the printed vinyl does not project the image of a commercial selling advertising banner.

Gothic Revival Architecture

In this we look toward the age of Gothic Revival, the chivalry of knighthood and the adoration of Royalty. Identifying with the exciting Coat of Arms for Rochdale, patented in 1857, we look to create a design proposal for a Coat of Arms for 2023. This is to be broken down into a collection of pen and ink workshops, potentially teenage school or community groups, where Coat of Arms designs are produced in large numbers. The workshop leader would then take a number of the designs forward to be put to a public vote. The winning design to be presented on the vinyl panel and various print media for the opening event. 

The workshops would revolve around the existing coat of arms. Identifying with the industries of the day: wool, cotton and iron. The Rashdale and the Dearden families and the hierarchy of land ownership ever present in the 19th Century. 

Participants would be guided to reject the channel 4, 2011 ranking of 4th worst place in the UK to reside. To look at the presentation of today’s industries of: distribution, manufacturing and digital technologies. To identify modern day figureheads: Anna Friel of acting, music Lisa Stansfield and Sajid Javid of politics (subject to change, due to recent questions being asked by the tax office). Ways of representing the 5 towns of the borough and the little shy of 15% Muslim population. Significant potential to address the towns twinning with Lviv in Ukraine, currently acting as a gateway to those fleeing the war to destinations across Europe. This could lead to designs which identify with modern day displacement.

Visual source of inspiration to be drawn from the Rochdale born contemporary artist, Jack Crabtree. His representations of working men in the colonies and the mills. Contemporary graphic design trends, GeekDad in particular. A major goal for workshop participants would be to identify a colour theme for Rochdale with design logic which can be explained. Black and white, blue, green and yellow all brand the town, we would look to initialise one colour theme. 

The Gothic Novel

This theme focuses on the popularity of the Gothic Novel during the Victorian era. The peak of popularity of the genre was prior to this under King George the third during the 1790’s, a time of the Napoleonic wars. These fictional works were massly popular and the genre exemplified by the hack horror stories and the shilling shockers. Although potentially possible to hook-up with near-by Howarth and the gothic heroines of the Bronte’s, we would intend to focus on the most acclaimed, Mary Shelley’ Frankenstein. 

The directive would be to work with a youth group and to look at recreating scenes from the novel. The major part, a costume making exercise, centering around the creation of the ‘Monster’. This involves many art disciplines, latex mask making and stage tools to present the act of wounding and death. 

Equally, we would be able to adapt the novel to a modern day setting. Discussion to correlate around the bewilderment of the never attempted ‘Brain Transplant,’ would the identity of the person remain with the ‘Brain’. Other confounds to be introduced around virtual reality (VR), automated reality (AR) and the high spec nature of today’s robots (Bots). What limitations should be imposed and the legal ramifications? 

The final artwork for the vinyl print to use photography from the scenes created. Potential for a short production to be staged or projected from a recording at the opening ceremony. Items of costume creation, stitched mask wear in particular could be exhibited at the venue. Layed out to allow visitors to try on, mobile phone photography suggested through signage. Caution around the artworking to ensure that it doesn’t appear to be an advertising banner for a new film production of the original novel.

Rochdale Pioneers

The Rochdale Pioneers is to be a most prominent theme and a sub element of many of the other workshops. Workshop series most suited to mothers with young families who may be struggling to make food budgets stretch. We could potentially start with the screening of the 2012 biographical film, however there are other options of televised media available if somewhat overused within the region. We would them look toward a directed discussion around the concept of co-operatives, poverty of the period, class discrimination and earlier events including the Peterloo masicure. To address how working class men did not have the vote until 1867 and later for rural dwellers and certain sections of society. Blackballed of voting rights for women until 1918 for the upper and middle classes, then, not until the late 1920’s for all adult females. Identifying with the forward thinking aspects of the Rochdale Pioneers where class and land ownership was not a factor and women were allowed equal membership from the offset. 

We would then identify with modern day issues, still as pertinent as when the co-op was established. Food poverty and the cost of living crisis which are encroaching across society. How modern day co-operatives are set up, signposting to relevant organisations. The recent surge in the use of community shops and food banks, a solution to the food or fuel dilemma. The environmental credentials of the initial collective in terms of food miles, local employment opportunities and the reduced packaging of the 1850’s. To look at the new refill shops which are emerging across the country and expectantly in Rochdale shortly.

The panel artworking to comprise of a variety of photographed collections. Taking the concept of £28, the budget of 28, £1 shares by all the members of the original co-op and specify this as our spend. Groups could then be sectioned off, some members taking £28 to a large supermarket, others, the same amount to a community shop. The difference in the amount of produce purchased and environmental considerations could be identified and photographed. A development would be to turn the produce into a buffet lunch if kitchen facilities are available. An artist vision which would remove the stigma from using community shops and food banks.

The Great Fire of 1883

This to be a delightful illustrated storytelling workshop directed primarily at the ages of around 7-12. In this we will use the local anecdote (Varying levels of accuracy) of Charlie the Fire House. The participants draw a tale from the night of the town hall fire when Charlie is winding from galloping at full pace until his death when he was then working for a soft drinks supplier. We have an account of how Charlie responds to the ringing of the fire bell, begins to gallop, throwing the lemonade bottles from the cart, then on arrival at the fire bell dropping dead. 

Participants to be engaged with details about the fire and restoration work. How fire engines operated in the day, and the actual response from other fire stations on the night of the fire. The life of fire Brigade Horses, daily walking and grooming. Identifying how the horses were to gallop directly to the fire, then to stand quietly and calmly while the fire was being fought, opportunity for role play. Potential for a visit to Greater Manchester Fire Manchester Fire Service Museum where studies of horse drawn fire engines can be outlined.

Participants to be engaged with the storytelling process. What does Charlie look like, what are his characteristics? Is he strong, wise, athletic? What is Charlie’ daily routine? Does he have any friends, are they horses or other animals? Are they any love interests and what are his feelings towards humans? Did he always want to be a fire horse, or would he rather have been a war horse? How does he feel about being retired from the Fire Brigade and  assigned to delivering pop? Storyboards to be developed from the night of the fire until his eventual death. A developmental exercise to take one of the frames forward with a larger drawing and a more detailed description. 

The final vinyl printed art piece to feature one of the participants illustrations with the input of professional graphic design. Many of the design and storytelling work to be included in the free printed publication to be given out from the town hall. The publication to contain other historical details about the fire, town hall and signposting to the Fire Brigade Museum. Great potential for a storytelling session at the opening event where the winning tale is read to a young audience. 

Law and Order

This theme to evolve around the way in which the Police and the Law courts were located at the Town Hall for lengthy periods. Ideally suited to a group of intellectuals, perhaps drawn from philosophy in pubs which meet in near-by Eccles. The first group discussion to generate around crimes which have occurred locally and Nationally, the rights and wrongs of the offences and the sentences passed. The second session to identify contemporary artists and how found objects are used within their works. The final session to create an art piece from items gathered by the group which can be photographed for the vinyl panel.

Discussion to be guided initially towards the Rochdale child abuse scandal, accumilating in 2012. Identifying with sentences being handed down to the offenders, Shabir Ahmed, the ring leader in particular. Then to address the role of the tabloid branded ‘Honey Monster’, the 15 year old girl who was paid to entice younger girls into the sex ring. Debate around the morality of her behaviour and the subject of her never being charged with any crime. Moving towards the recent case of Peter Cordwell, who died from a heart attack after trying to apprehend a gang stealing a large crate of cigarettes from a holding. To highlight the issue of class, race and criminality, should the matter of the cigarettes being counterfeit change the outcome of sentencing. Discussions around the Gary Newlove case, accountability in Grenville Towers tragedy, drawing the conversation toward a topic of altimate relevance the: Manchester Arena Bombing. What sentence should Salman Ramadan Abedi have received if had been detained by the authorities on the way to the Arena? Generating discussion toward the concept of the death penalty. 

The following session is to identify with how assemblage of object is used in contemporary arts practice. Tracey Emin’ ‘My Bed’ to be explored in intense detail. Other artists to look at are to be the Chapman Brothers and Eric Gill as a sex offender. The group then to decide on a  scenario relating to a criminal act they would like to represent through assemblage of objects to form an installation. A example being: the Rochdale sex scandal could be represented by 9 condoms hung up to depict the 9 convicted sex offenders. In each, a tamagotchi could be placed, representative of the age of the victims. Sentences even in years could be presented on the screens of the tamigotchi’s. Participants to identify the crime and what needs to be assembled. The location of the items to be photographed of great significance. 

Sensitivity to be used for the final photography for the vinyl panel, if, for example, condoms were used only the mid region parts could be shown by the print. Potential for the installation to be displayed at the town hall with a sensitive content warning. Full image and information about the art installation to be displayed within the accompanying publication.

The Rochdale Canal

This collection of workshops to be targeted toward Rochdale’s smallest residents: children from the ages of two until ten. A fabulous reclaimed mask making workshop theme around canal wildlife. The intention would be to make masks of: bats, bee’s, the great pollinators, badgers and kingfishers. The presence of bats and kingfishers stated in the 2011 Waterways survey. A positive impression of bats to be created including their work, similar to bee’s, as pollinators. Through the bees we draw attention to how they became a symbol of Manchester after the Arena attack. Identifying with the social nature of badgers and how they live as families in canal side burrows. To highlight the beautiful colours of the kingfisher and how they are in decline in Northern England. 

Workshops to be situated during various warmer month school holidays sessions by busy parts of the canal towpath. This could be closer to the other towns within the borough of Rochdale. Areas, such as the Edinburgh Way underpass may be a potential venue, arts workshops often helping to promote positive activities in areas which are often plagued by anti-social behaviour and can become crime hotspots.

The intent is to photograph the participants during the session, but to create a finale event where all the participants are asked to attend mask-adorned. This could be within the heritage re-generation zone in the town centre, preferably the exterior space surrounding the town hall. Instigating a photography session from above, ideally the balcony of the town hall, a birds eye shot of the animal mask wearing young Rochdaleons. The finale event to be developed with additional mask making opportunities and potentially, healthy eating fruit snacks of specific relevance, possibly relating to fruit bats.

The printed vinyl panel to be ideally created from the bird’s eye photography taken on the finale day. The print would encompass a mass of participants, the future adults and leaders of the region. A fun-filled collection of workshops, a delight for the youngest members of society. 

Rochdale dialect

Ideally suited to groups for the retired, those who have lived in Rochdale over the course of their lifetimes and identify with how the dialect has modified and changed over the last 80 years. The main workshop to be a discussion group to be taken to different retirement homes and or day centres with groups for elderly residents. 

Discussions to evolve around the subject of dialect. Are we in agreement with the Manchester Voice classification as ‘Lancashire’. The exhibition at the central library and the nearly new poetry library. To address some individual colloquialisms: cabbaged, cock and rozzer in particular. Progressing towards sayings:

Do I heck as like

What a load of twod


From this to take one of the terms and to rephrase into a contemporary context. Could ‘Trouble-at-t-mill.’ become ‘Worries at the Warehouse.

Moving forward to translation dialect verse from the Rochdale poet, Edwin Waugh, Willy’s Grave:

Each village home was dark and still,

And closed was every door;

For gentle sleep had twined her arms

Around both rich and poor,—

Save in one little cot, where, by

A candle’s flickering ray

A childless mother sighing sat,

And combed her locks of grey.

Could this be re-interpreted to a modern day urban setting, should commonplace modern domestic pets replace the agricultural sheep? Introducing electricity and the concept of fertility treatments. Another source of inspiration could be Lord Byron. Potentially identifying with text written around the year without a summer after the eruption of mount Tambora in Indonesia. If this were to happen today would we assume the world was ending due to climate catastrophe.

The group then to identify with the positive and negative connotations involving swearing. In which situation is bad language considered acceptable, when is it inappropriate? To discuss the term ‘Bloody Hard Work’ taken from the Rochdale Pioneers screenplay. Is cussing being used in a positive context? Addressing swearing as a healthy activity to release stress, alternatively as a form of aggression, a predecessor to being struck in a domestic violence situation. Moving towards the Russian invasion of Ukraine and swearing has become a weapon of resistance with the Ukrainian people.

The discussion to finalise around choices between modernising old dialect or to preserve what was once commonplace. Each group proposes a term, saying or interpretation to be printed on the final vinyl panel for the Town Hall. The workshop leader which term to use as a consensus among the mass of participants. Professional graphic design to be applied to the text endorsing other elements of the discussion groups.


Workshop leader to take a covid test if any symptoms of the virus are displayed. Hand wipes and antibacterial soap to be made available. Any equipment for workshops to be cleaned with anti bacterial spray prior to the activity. To endeavour to incorporate the use of outside venues where plausible and relinquishing the use of face masks for workshop leader and participants. In the event of a spike in cases, Nationally of locally, workshops to move online and take place via zoom. Events for the opening of the town hall to be modified, any large group gatherings, for the Rochdale canal workshop to be cancelled.


The workshop leader to arrange to meet with group leaders and school staff to ensure the success of the program. In addition a presence at any relevant events or creative networking opportunities. Through this she would look to engage with more potential workshop participants adding to the success of the program. Equally to maintain a strong social media presence through linkedin and facebook in addition to her blog:

A magnificent selection of workshops enticing all of society to form ranks behind the re-opening of Rochdale Town Hall.

Alison Little

Unfortunately Alison was unsuccessful with her proposal, the successful commissions will be created over the next year.

My Garden My Sanctuary

My Garden

My Sanctuary

A duo of digital artists have combined their practice to create an immersive experience at Liverpool’s Fact. 

Yaloo (neigh a miss print of Yahoo), a Korean artist has brought Asian culture to the North West. The Gods of the Temples have been reclaimed as modern day masks of the commetics industry. We are drawn through the colourful, childlike entrance into a spectrum of jerk-motioned avatars, masks of moving image’ and a pond-like platter of digital seaweed Seaweed soup, a luxury for Yaloo, has been passed through her family for generations as a celebratory Birthday meal. A traditional Korean dish, seaweed soup is served to mothers after giving birth due to being rich in iron.

 This translates to the culture of the course taking centre stage at Birthday celebrations, honouring motherhood and procreativity. The meditative nature of the soundscape and the decline into the main gallery space simulates the motion of submerging.

a pond-like platter of digital seaweed Seaweed soup

Sian Fan (neigh a miss print of Sinn Fein and no connection to Northern Ireland), a British born artist of Chinese heritage then takes over the main exhibition space with interactive, digital, games-play. Surrounded by an installation of lotus’ we can explore the digital world in which we have been placed.

However, the real triumph of Sian’ digital motion graphics has been created within the entrance space. Avatars emerge from smart-phone-like screens to dance in motions which you can dictate from your movements. You raise your right arm> the motion sensor reacts> the avatar raises their right arm. The legs are more laborious to bring about flux, emulating the impact of emerging from water. After some lower abdominal adjustments, the leg movements are taken on by the avatar. 

You raise your right arm> the motion sensor reacts> the avatar raises their right arm

The use of avatars resonates on the self obsessed reality of generation X Y and Z through the use of social media. Sian visualised the avatar from a photo representation of herself, an almost shrine-like process of creating a flawless, hyper-perfect representation of  visceral existence. Numerous sites offer this process, mass market propergandering quests for a perfect physique, driving dissatisfaction with the normal human bodily identity. Supplemented by the trio of centrally located screens drawing on the traditions of a vanity mirror. Superlative, innovative digital artwork combining with the fun of a K-pop dance routine.

A meditative, dreamlike immersive experience, presenting an artistic collaboration into the depths of Asian culture. Equally, an enjoyable afternoon for little culture seekers, where dance routines can be animated with the naivety of youth. 

A ‘Must Do’ exhibition, continues until the 9th of October 2022.

De:Coding Graffiti

Whatnot might this be?

We contemplate, we gander and we gaze……this  could imply a manifold of  deeds.

A quadratic equation reproduced as street art through the enamel of the aerosol. Graffiti adorning the wall of a North Liverpool estate in situ.

On outset, the leaf symbol. Perhaps a tool of environmental activism, signifying the need to re-wild a potential brownfield site. The Adidas emblem: logo of a familiar sportswear brand within the city. Viably, the Maple Leaf of the Canadian flag, or could the foliage be of the cannabis variety? In an area of rather diminished incomes and narcotic usage being higher than that of the National average. A reefa, but what of the solid horizontal bar? Could this represent a homestead, a table perchance?

Social deprivation surrounding all, inflation rocketing, are we identifying with marijuana sales putting food on the table? Income provision to maintain a living wage through the dealing of dope?

Marijuana sales putting food on the table

LT conceivably initials, Liv Taylor the actress: improbable. The documentary maker Louis Theroux who filmed in the nearby Smithdown Road Asda in 2015? The ordinary man, the street artist brandishing their identity on the brickwork? Beneath: several dates. However, not a from, to, format commonly used to represent chronological lifespan details. Simply a 2019 and then  1-7-19. A deliberate ploy to display further detail, or simply a poorly configured rendering?

FT looking to start the more scientific language and the equation, the smaller R working inline. Potentially relating to Fundamental Thermodynamic Relation or First Time Right: the score used within manufacturing. However, more possibly For The Record, a frequented term, particularly within the crime dramas which dominate our TV channels.

For The Record

Above this we have a scroll-like emblem, possibly a V on a C, or potentially an indication of movement, a shift in dynamics or the flight of a wild feathered creature. 

Transcended by FTM, could this in fact be ATM, the recognizable abbreviation for a cash point. A suggestion of notes, finance, purse snatching or larger scale bank heist? 


Hindmost, MC in capitals and a lowercase digit void of identification. An error laced re-scribbing of Einstein’ theory of relativity: E=MC2. MC often used in online forums  relating to a miscarriage. Master of Ceremonies, an events host and the forefather of the rapper’s term MC. Once more, could this refer to a name, perhaps the Scottish origin of Mc or Mac habitual within the North West.

Imaginably, we have a multitude of outcomes:

Luke McTaylor shifts weed to put food on the table. Interviewed in July 2019 by the Police he denied running away from the ATM. 

Liv Taylor supports rewilding. Gravity will impact the flight of new birdlife. She appeals for donations. 

Gravity aided the effectiveness of the explosives used in the bank robbery. The main subject was fleeing the scene while wearing an Adidas sweatshirt.

Potential interpretations are open ended and boundless. Only one matter is fully assured, it makes my grind of the daily dog walk more engrossing when strolling alongside.

The Observatory

The Observatory is a proposal for a mobile star gazing system to be site across Leeds in 2023.

The Observatory

The Observatory to be a mantra for the imagination. 

An inflatable chasm of wisdom, forum for discourse and a cavity of creativity. The art of print media fused with the functionality of the world renowned Shipping Container. Solar power solutions meet micro, self-sufficiency edible leaf growth. A carbon neutral, pneumatic palace derived from green credentials.

The inflatable dome pays tribute to the Sixties modes which were rooted with space age discovery. Geo-mestric structures replicating those of Nasa and the moon landings which were televised in the glory of black and white. Pneumatics which equally draw on the fun-factor of infancy. Essentially, beach holiday delights, the staple of the air-filled, brightly coloured, beach ball. The dingles which paddle through shallow shores and the air beds which add comfort to the annual camping holiday.

The printed surface design engages with the jubilant dynamics of the dome. The lime green of the lower tract relates to John Smeaton’ innovation of hydraulic lime in concrete. The World’s first civil engineer expanding the potential for concrete was a major contribution to Britain’s Industrial Revolution. The lime of the hydraulic to be relayed to contemporary, eco-sustainable materials. ‘Hempcrete’ is a leading example, landing in the hands of 21st Century civil engineers. The design extends into oranges and includes astronomic elements, highlighting Smeatons interests in the cosmos. Potential of the iconic L=KV2AC to be added to the artworking or reproduced as 3D laser-cut lettering to be freestanding. Additional information in internal display form would highlight how part of the formula was proved incorrect by the famed Wright Brothers. 

The theme of pneumatic to be extended to a blow-up space suit to be adorned by an events organiser during activities. A great promotional tool which will engage additional participants, potential for the costumes to be of a specific gender or ethnicity to appeal to specific groups. Artworking for the dome to be used for the suit, potentially to be produced by the same manufacturers of the dome.

Initial, first consideration for the manufacture of the inflatable dome to be ASE (Advanced Sensory Education), based in the Ukraine. Although shipping is an environmental factor, this can be offset to show support for Ukraine and to oppose the environmental damage caused by the Russian Invasion. The manufacturers are still trading and have completed numerous comparable projects, adaptations will need to be made to incorporate the shipping container. Additionally, there is potential to stream a discussion with the manufacturers during an event where we can lead a discussion on production process, environmental aspects and the invasion. They also provide various options for LED lighting systems and seating solutions to be investigated in greater depth.

The circular nature of the dome invites discussion for activity groups. This can be developed through the use of seating and floor bags in particular. Informal, but equally productive, discussion is often engaged through this format of seating. 

Transition from the forum of the blow-up shelter to the practicalities of the shipping container to involve a simple ramp and spacious passageway. This is firstly to ensure that it is suitable for the wheelchair bound, but equally the vast numbers of prams for family friendly events. This is to combine with chairs which are easy to transfer into from a wheelchair or mobility scooter, ensuring they are designated through signage and not monopolised by the able bodied. Screenings to use subtitles and specific engagement of interpreters or signers for specific activity groups to be suggested through signage provision. 

The major context of the shipping container is to host the telescopic and other stargazing equipment. The roof is to house solar panels, generating electricity during the day, then through adaptations opening up at night to allow for star gazing activities. A simple plug in solar panel system to be used, organisers will be able to explain the potential of grass routes domestic solar power generation to interested parties. 

Pre-used shipping container to be purchased, of the smaller (3.5 metre length) variety. This to be clad with  printed sheet diabound featuring the same print media as the inflatable dome. Between the panels we would look to use rockwool as an environmentally friendly source of insulation. Outside of the shipping container we would look to position planters growing leaf based food produce. This could potentially combine with a water collection system highlighting self sufficiency. The leaf produce would then be used within any buffet produced, engaging with the concept of the ultimately fresh salad leaf. 

Staffing for the project would mainly be for set up and breakdown. The pneumatic dome to be stored within the shipping container, inflated with the use of a compressor, potentially with electricity generated from the solar panel. Security staff would need to be available if the structure was to remain inflated overnight, especially if sited in late night drinking spots. 

Decommissioning of the project to involve the sale of the shipping container. The printed diabound panels and the dome could potentially be donated to community groups. Potentially the PVC from the dome could be cut down and denoted to artists to repurpose. The designated solar panel system to be easily re-use, great for an allotment or other smaller community group. Rockwool insulation to be cut into small sections and added to compost for decomposition. 

A triumph of art engaging with science, the fun of pneumatics hand in hand with the practicality of the shipping container. A creative sanctuary which can provide relief from the chaos of urban crowds. 

Ultimately, a self-sufficient Palace of Universal potential.

Alison Little

The proposal was unsuccessful, we wait for the winning application to be announced.

Badgers in Burnley!

The Platinum Jubilee celebrations routed a trip across the Pennines for Rags Boutique. Burnley was the destination, the Leeds Liverpool canal the location.

Buffered on the canal bank, the floating canopy was taken over by Burnley’s youth of creatives. Repurposed, single use plastic bags the source material, magical masks the outcome. Badgers, bumble bee’s, bats and beautiful dragonflies were templated, cut, stapled and elastic bound to the miniature makers. 

Red, white and blue bunting then engaged the jubilant troupe of artisans. Late on, a downpour threatened to wash out the day’s artistic endeavours. The families edges nearer together, keeping dry under the canopy. Pen and ink then took centre stage as depictions of canalside animals overtook the papers of the project.

Exubilence, a making to endorse the wildlife of modern canal settings. Fun, fabulous and a simply fantastic workshop in Burnley!

Deco on Deansgate

3 months hence the Tower of Light was officially unveiled on Deansgate we question if this can be seen as a return to decorative arts within architecture? Does the structure parallel concerns of the modern era? How has this small, but perfectly formed smoke outlet fitted into the Manchester skyline?

The inspiration for the structure was taken from shell-lace, the wall of energy to parallel the imprint of waves lapping on the sands of the beach. Natural influences were commonplace within the arts and crafts movement, a rejection of the industrial builds of the Victorian era. Deansgate and the site of the tower, a gateway to the more historic architecture of the great Northern Metropolis. Chimney, stone clad adornations of natural fruit and flowers meet modern, laser cut steel technology.

A decade of pioneering led to this award winning biometric structure from Tonkin Liu architects. The engineers in Arup developed the super-light, super-strong form. Using cutting edge computer modelling technique, sheet steel was laser cut, tailored and welded into four sections, completion taking place on the city-centre thoroughfare.

Opening, officially in February, unintentionally coinciding with Russia’ invasion of Ukraine. Subsequently, the environmental credentials became of immense importance. Powering heat and light for 5 of the city’s key buildings, currently covering a 2km range which can be extended to privately owned business premises. Low carbon power is generated under the railway arches, looking to cut 5 thousand tons of carbon emissions over the next 5 years. 

The small, but perfectly formed tower is actually 40 metres in height. However, its standing is dwarfed by the geometrically patterned cladding of the 93 metre high Axis building. Many in Manchester have not actually viewed the tower as of yet. However its beauty of scale is a designated visual highlight. The elegant light displays, daily; created by the reflections of the internal wind generated structure, taken over by LEDs from nightfall. The potential for the tower to cast illumination is specific colours in response to sporting victories and festivals such as Pride not to be disregarded. An architectural structure which can momentualise victory and celebration simply a triumph.

An edifice which will redirect modern architecture to the natural forms of old. A master of modern construction technology and a monument fitting to the direction of the decade.

In short, a shell-lace, light projecting legacy of the 2020’s.


Orchard, a year in England’s Eden was one of the most capturing books to be published in 2020.

A collaboration between two authors: Benedict Macdonald and Nicholas Gates. Both are naturalists, both have penned articles for top rate environmental publications including National Geographic and both have created content for BBC and ITV including David Attenborough’s  Our Planet.

In parallel this book is also a collaboration of literary styles. Where fiction meets factual content. The pleasure, passionate language and winding narrative of literary fiction used to articulate the evolution of nature through the Orchard. Where to place it on the book shelf? Unsure, so were all the major booksellers. Anywhere from science and technology to gardening, wildlife to birdwatching. 

A third collaboration is present, the partnership between man and nature. The Orchard is unravelled through the course of a year. We have home building and nesting through the plethora of life during the summer months. Penultimately, the endeavours of harvest, concluding with hibernation and return of the harshest of climates.

Some Quotes

It projects with its boughs, an ark of animals now almost impossible to find living side by side elsewhere in our dying countryside.
(Also refers to religion and environment)

A disused farm gate, bound by twine and locked by ivy.

Beast from the East
(Reference to UK storm of 2018)

Molehill: the newly erected earthen pyramid.

Blackbird gangs

The orchards’ fungal and beetle armies have already colonised this new barracks.

(Previously animated for the classic Bedknobs and broomsticks)

Ancestral hedge-lines

Goats willow

Oaks bubble with resurgent leaves. Their crushed, dead skeletons transform into chlorophyll cathedrals.

Spotted flycatcher (Bird)

Hover flies

Rhinoceros beetles are unmistakable. With a single horn this metallic black beetle looks like a tiny triceration dinosaur. As they bulldoze their way into pea sized breeding tunnels to lay their own eggs.


Male stag beetle, size of a matchbox

Black veined whites (Butterflies)

Horse shoe bats

Elephant hawk moths

The damage of the snail army is hard to detect. Here in the orcharch, snails are slow moving refugees.

Sawflies- Saw like genitalia are used to cut through leaves.

Chiffchaff next

Sex-crazed wood pigeons

When spider webs unite, they can tie down a lion. (African Proverb)

Crane fly

Leather jackets (crane fly larvae)

I follow the fresh crane flies as they clumsily bounce off anything and everything, accompanied by the sound of autumnal apple leaves decaying, grass seed stalks whispering in the light night breeze.

But now, the walnut orb spider brazenly waits out in the open poised at the centre of her silken telephone; eight legs listening alert. Her abdomen is stencilled with ribbed pattern of a perfectly symmetrical.

To attract a lady, male walnut orb weavers strut their stuff with some impressive dance moves. His routine starts with percussion: raising both her front legs in the air and frequently drumming her web to signal his arrival.

Green fanged tube web spider

The cider house donkey of Yore

Leave them to sweat (Apples)

Cuckoo haunted willow.

The bees argue in their black ball. A flying hedgehog, all prickles. (Quoted from Sylvia Plath)

Nest raiding jays

In a salmon coloured flash it (Jay) bounds across the golden apple carpet.

It has been found that ivy creates a thermal blanket, its shiny leaves insulating its internal reaches against the cold.

Ivy bees

If one plant wired into the orchards fungal broadband, the others, will immediatly begin their chemical release.

Fungal morse code system of enormous complexity.

Glouster Old Spot- the orchards pig.

Published in August 2020 during the first summer of the pandemic. A period when many had begun to rediscover nature during our governed one hour of exercise. Staycations were the norm while much of international travel was put on hold. 

A worthy winner of the Jefferies Society and White Horse’ book prize for nature writing. A book which does not simply enable engagement with nature: it emerces you deeply into the natural undergrowth of Herefords finest ancient Orchard.

2 Years

Easter marks two years of Dave’s passing, an early victim of covid 19. Alison, his partner writes this poem to mark the occasion.

2 years

2 years since our last handclasp

2 years of pandemic passed

2 years, your death broadcast

2 years, of living steadfast

===News Flash===

Russia invaded Ukraine

Putin’ dictators brain

Claims of being insane

World War 3? to ascertain

Ukrainians stood hearty strong

Maripol, besieged month long

Kieve fought, Russia retreated hourlong

Mines left in corpses, the Slavic song

===Sports News===

Details of the footy, you await

LFC on top, but don’t inflate

Man City may accelerate

Chelsea not far, a little belate’

Outcry, with my blue team!

Abramovitch’ metal, Russian tanks gleam

Oligarch wealth extracted, the bloodstream

Chelsea, for sale, the Bridge beam’

Gerrard gains, Villa mid table

Lamps for Everton, not the same fable

Religation, sat above, unstable

Form, quite directly: abysmal

===Home News===

Myself, retraining Media City

Daily zoom sessions, the web community

Match of the Day filmed hyper activity

Shakespeare North, applying, locality

A family of rodents took up house!

I screamed, in scurried a mouse

Could not call you from the alehouse

Austin patrolled, you amiss, my spouse

1 caught, adhered to a board

Then a second explored

Another 2 same fate award’

1 remained, not the same accord

Front bedroom trapped

Ambush spring bound, baited

Bait taken, the vermin lapped

Poison dispose as it napped

A week, still taking, metallic spoils

Then, no more did it coil

Over was our toil

No longer sleeping in turmoil

2 years apart

Some ways, a new start

Remain top of my heart

Love, no need a jumpstart!

Alison Little

Owl and the Pussy Cat

The Aviary, submission for the Owl and the Pussy Cat public arts trail, Knowsley 2022

The Aviary

The Aviary design looks to depict the large collection of birds which the 13th Earl of Derby held within his menagerie. With over 300 species of rare and valuable birds his collection was considered one of the most extensive and impressive in Europe. During the 1850’s he commissioned the young Edward Lear to paint many of the birds, the exotic parrots in particular. 

The design uses a pea green backing tone relating to the boat from the Owl and the Pussy Cat poem. Equally, the colour green was a must have shade during the mid Victorian era. Partially due to candle light being replaced by gas burners allowing for the visual qualities of the colour to be viewed in a greater level. Secondly, a new tone of green had been developed in Germany by adding arsenic to colour pigment. This led to the poisoning of mainly production workers and by the 1870’s the process had been abandoned. However, green remained a fashionable Victorian shade which utilized pigments from safer sources.

The birds depicted on the design relate to the 318 species once reared at Knowsley Hall. Many of Lear’ illustrations are used as source material, others are images of species which were likely to be present within the collection. A focus has been taken on exotic birds, parrots in particular, located at pivotal points on the surface of the owl. A botanical illustration style has been adopted, realism core to the presentation. Often portrayed from a direct side elevation, semi-diagrammatic to convey a visual understanding from a natural history perspective.

Equally, the Aviary, relates to the contemporary Knowsley Safari Park which evolved from the much earlier menagerie. The birds of prey housed at the Safari Park could potentially be added to the design. Other aspects of environmental concern to identify with the decline of the Barn Owl with the region and the UK as a whole. This is mainly due to urbanisation and a reduction of grassland areas.

The Avery, a design which can delight, inform and bring splendor to the Borough of Knowsley.

Alison Little

Unfortunately, Alison was unsuccessful with her submission but will continue to apply for similar commissions.

Forest Island

Forest Island

Not much of a gamer?

Played a bit of Pac Man and Tetris in your younger days?

Snake used to pass the time on outstretched train journeys?

Forest Island is the game for you!

A feel good game which relaxes and takes away your daily stresses. Easy to download to your phone or tablet. Fundamentally simple, great for that wind down spot after dinner and the currently so depressingly deadly evening news. A small slot of 5 or 10 minutes of video gaming the slow paced way before the drama’s of the soaps take to the screen.

Refreshing greenery of the ever-growing forest combines with white sands and calming stillness of the ocean. A simple game, no instructions required, clip on hearts and gems with your finger tips. You gradually build your island with a bear cave and deer meadow coming at more advanced stages. Collected hearts and gems are used to acquire further creatures and landscaping features. Additional structures and animals are easy to purchase from the store for a minimal fee. 

The downsides, there are a few: mainly, slightly lengthy to download. Secondly, it really is one for the girls! We have the feminine delights of bunny rabbits giving off hearts in multiples. 

A great minimal commitment game which will take the stresses out of your day.

Download now!