Harris Flights Officially Opened

20 August 2013

Press Office

Community art project programme announced

One year on from Preston Guild City Festival sees the opening of the Harris Flights, a dramatic temporary art installation, creating a staircase rising from the Flag Market to the first floor balcony of the Harris Museum & Art Gallery.

On Saturday 17 August, the anniversary of the first Guild Proclamation, the supporting events programme began. Dance, theatre, live music, poetry, science, film and sports feature heavily in the artistic performances. The programme, which has a family focus throughout, involves the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), arts organisations, community and faith groups along with charities, all coming together across the four weeks in an eclectic line-up.

With all events free to attend, this will be a fantastic way to spend August and September. The opening weekend began with a performance from the One Voice Community Choir, along with a visit from the Mayor of Preston, Councillor Veronica Afrin.

She said: “I am thrilled to be at the opening of the Harris Flights. This is a unique sight in Preston and something on this scale against such an iconic building has never been seen before."

“The Harris Flights is central to the free entertainment on offer for families this summer and people should come to view the city from a new perspective, at the top of the steps.”

UCLan played a key part in the opening event by erecting 22 tables set up with a variety of traditional board games for people to join in, with complimentary tea served to those who take part. There was also an insight into the life and times of ancient Rome with a Roman invasion from the Museum of Lancashire.

On Sunday 1 September, Andy McKeown, new media light and sound artist, will dazzle his audience with his highly coloured and energetic tour through Preston’s archives, collections and architecture via an illuminated, animated montage on the façade of the Harris Museum. Andy has projected his illuminated installations nationally and internationally, including a digital graffiti festival in Florida, USA; Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral during Light Night 2012; and a council building in Nottingham last year.

Similar projections were also seen during the Jubilee celebrations in London last year, when various images were projected onto Buckingham Palace.

Blaze, Ludus Dance and More Music are all organisations who performed during the Guild City Festival last September and they all appear in the Harris Flights programme, entertaining crowds with dance and live music. Preston based Bluestreak Arts, who featured at the Easter Egg Rolling event, will be performing a new theatrical performance fusing live music, Av media, dance and physical theatre to tell the story of the architect of the Harris Museum, James Hibbert.

Bank holiday Monday on the 26 August will see a sport themed day filled with games, stalls and demonstrations including Aikido - a traditional Japanese martial art that uses an attacker's energy against them.

Phil Kaila, a Salsa specialist, will showcase music and dance from across Cuba, Columbia, the USA, Scotland, Ireland and more. Abhinandana performance will be a colourful display of classical and Bollywood Indian dance with popular songs such as ‘Jai ho’ from the film Slumdog Millionaire, and an opportunity to join in a Bollywood dance workshop, led by experts.


Staff and students from UCLan feature heavily throughout the programme bringing a variety of events to the Harris Flights including science, children’s storytelling and dance.

Fine art Lecturer William Titley plans to slow jog a marathon taking in the Harris Museum’s displays and exhibitions as well as the flight steps themselves, whilst interacting with onlookers and visitors.

He said: “My work often involves the merging of art and everyday life events, particularly local cultures. The Harris Flights project is an opportunity for me to merge the culture of Fell Running with the exploration of the physical space of the Museum & Art Gallery.

“It will be a real test of my own physical and mental endurance while at the same time representing the space in another way. My route will trace the many stairways and galleries within the building and also include the new temporary flights outside in the public square.”

The Harris Flights part of an architectural intervention commissioned by In Certain Places, a programme of temporary public artworks and events in Preston, in a curatorial partnership between UCLan and the Harris Museum and Art Gallery to influence the development of the city. Architectural practice Research Design has teamed up with In Certain Places for the Harris Flights project. 

See here for information about the architecture of Harris Flights.