Art students delved into the history books to take part in a community project which would feature their work.

The Nelson and Colne College students were asked to create a piece of art under the project title ‘Sense of Place’, which was to be used for the opening of the newly refurbished Unity Hall, Nelson, featuring the story Selina Cooper, an English suffragist from the area.

The initiative is a Nelson Town Council project, with funding from the National Lottery.

The students’ work included designs for stained glass windows, Selina’s face and the faces of other historic figures crafted from tea leaves, embroidered banners, film presentations and more.

The students were given the opportunity to talk about their chosen pieces at a soft launch event held at the hall in September and were all invited to the official opening on Saturday, October 9th.

Charlotte Bill, project facilitator, said: “We really wanted to involve the community in our exhibition, and it is my role in the project to engage with schools and colleges within the area to involve them in what we are doing.

“Selina Cooper started work in the mills aged 12 and students visited Clarion House which was founded by the same people who founded Unity Hall – the ILP of which Selina Cooper was a prominent member to aid their research.”

“The work we have received from students from Nelson and Colne College is just outstanding. They each got the same brief but interpreted it in so many unique and incredible ways.

“It was fascinating to talk to them and find out why they chose the creative routes they did, and the results proved a great talking point among guests at our soft launch.”

Nelson and Colne College Tutor, Cerise, Ward said: “The students embraced this project during lockdown and as they were all working from different pathways, from fine art, interior design, fashion and textile, film and photo, the results were all unique.

“They each gained so much from the project and learned a lot about our local history along the way.”

Our students were also featured in a Radio Lancashire interview

You can listen to the interview here -19 to 26mins and 33 to 40 mins

About Selina Cooper

Selina Cooper was an English suffragist and the first woman to represent the Independent Labour Party in 1901 when she was elected as a Poor Law Guardian.

In 1901, Cooper was elected to the Board of Guardians, as a joint SDF-ILP candidate. However, she became frustrated with the SDF’s lack of interest in the suffrage movement, and moved away from the party, becoming a full-time organiser for the suffrage movement.

In 1910 she was chosen to be one of four women to present the case for women’s suffrage to H. H. Asquith, the then Prime Minister.

Make sure you go and take a look at our students and other artist’s work at Unity Hall in Nelson. 

Interested in Art? Find out more about the courses we offer here