Search begins for Lancashire artwork that is fit for a Queen

The call has gone out to Lancashire artists to create a work reflecting the Queen’s special connection to the county in order to mark her platinum jubilee next year.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 3:37 pm
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 3:57 pm

The Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire will commission the artwork, which must also be based on the theme of “70 years of service”.

A competition has been launched to find the perfect piece to commemorate the first time that a British monarch has spent seven decades on the throne. The final work could be anything from a painting or sculpture to a performance, but it should leave a legacy of the occasion for future generations.

Lord Shuttleworth acknowledges that it will be a tricky task to come up with a concept that both captures the moment and adheres to the brief, but says: “That's part of the fun of it.”

How should Lancashire mark the Queen's platinum jubilee?

“The thing to do is to be open-minded and rely on the imagination and skills of Lancashire people to come up with some good ideas - it is rather exciting, we may be completely surprised.

“Some people have thought it might be a nice idea to have a play or poem rather than a visual work of art - and a performance can always be repeated.

“The Queen is the Duke of Lancaster, she has made frequent visits here and the Duchy of Lancaster also owns Lancaster Castle and a great chunk of the Hodder Valley - so she does have a special relationship with the county, which is why we felt it was right for us to make a particular effort here,” Lord Shuttleworth said.

Artists are being invited to submit an expression of interest by 24th September, outlining their idea. A shortlist of five proposals will then be drawn up - with the individuals behind each of them being given £500 to develop fully-fledged designs.

The budget for the finished piece will be up to £75,000, which must include all fees and material costs.

While Lord Shuttleworth says that “anything goes” at this stage, he cautions against suggestions so obscure that “people in a year or two will wonder what on earth it was”.

“Obviously, the judges will select something that they think will meet with general approval - and clearly we want something interesting and original.

“It’s open to anybody with a good idea, but I suppose one would expect that people who have some sort of artistic track record or aspirations would want to have a go at it.”

Consideration should also be given to the siting of any artwork - whether it would be in a fixed location or could tour the county - and also the possibility of it being reproduced in miniature to make it as accessible to as many Lancastrians as possible, including schoolchildren.

Anybody pitching a piece must themselves have a “demonstrably strong connection” to Lancashire - but for the purposes of this project that is regarded as any area “that has been defined as Lancashire within the period of the Queen’s reign”.

That opens up the competition to people within the wider county palatine, which extends far beyond the borders of the current administrative county council area introduced in 1974 - meaning submissions can be made from people in much of Greater Manchester and Merseyside, as well as parts of South Cumbria like Barrow-in-Furness.

That stipulation has been embraced by the Friends of Real Lancashire group, which campaigns for recognition of the county’s historical borders.

“We are delighted that the Lancashire Lieutenancy has recognised the historic county of Lancashire with regards to this project,” its chairman Philip Walsh said.

“Her Majesty The Queen, Duke of Lancaster is regarded in such high esteem by proud Lancastrians everywhere and for her to have served the nation and commonwealth for 70 years is remarkable. The Committee of Friends of Real Lancashire will support this project in any way it can and I am sure its members and followers will do the same.”

Meanwhile, Lord Shuttleworth hopes that whatever Lancashire artwork is ultimately chosen will meet with royal approval.

‘There are a great many suggestions of things being done all over the country, as well as here in Lancashire. I hope that the Queen will be intrigued by them, but I also hope that she will understand the great affection and appreciation that people have for her - and that’s going to be reflected in the jubilee.”

The Lancashire commission will be made in November with the work being installed or performed in June next year to coincide with the Queen’s official birthday.

For more information on the competition, click here.