In search of Blackburn’s street art

After my recent foray into Manchester to seek out some of the street art in the city’s Northern Quarter I remembered reading a few months ago that Blackburn also has various murals dotted around the town centre so I decided to do a bit of internet research to find out more about them.
Blackburn Open Walls was started in 2016 by Blackburn-born international artist Hayley Welsh as a 3-year project starting that year to bring street art to some of the town’s forgotten walls, and several local, national and international artists have created a collection of large scale murals on a variety of buildings. It took a while to find out where most of these things are and after much studying of Google maps for street names I made a list and set off recently in search of some of them, so join me on my Monday walk this week as I wander round Blackburn town centre looking for art.
Leaving the van at home I went to Blackburn on the train and as I came out of the station I saw my first art piece – not a mural but the sculpture of a young woman holding her child’s arm while he tries to reach for a teddy bear dropped on the ground. A short walk from the left of the station found the first four murals, two of them by Hayley Welsh herself ; Hayley is apparently well known for her cute, whimsical and often sad looking fantasy creatures and I really loved the second one I found. From those first four murals it was just a matter of following the street route I’d written out for myself and ticking things off my list as I found them, although I ended up doing more than one deviation.
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Blackburn Youth Zone building – mural by Lucy McLoughlin
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Artist – Curtis Hylton – stork hidden down an out-of-sight storm drain
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Artist – Hayley Welsh
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Artist – Hayley Welsh
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Artist – Annatomix
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Artist – Add Fuel – This one is so realistic I had to touch the wall to check that it really isn’t layers of torn wallpaper
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Artist – Curtis Hylton
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Artist – Boo_Who_Up_North
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Artist – Goya Torres
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist – Cosmo Sarson, mural painted June 2019
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Artist – Dale Grimshaw
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A search for one of Curtis Hylton’s works, the colourful head of a bird surrounded by roses, proved to be a bit frustrating as I couldn’t find it anywhere even after several checks of my list and the street name, but I did find some works by other artists. A later internet search proved that I was in the right location and looking at the right building so the bird must have been painted over and replaced by one of the other works, though so far apart from one I’ve been unable to find out who the other artists are.
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist – Trik 09
The next mural was down a narrow back alley, covered the full rear wall of three separate businesses and reached from ground to roof. Unfortunately several commercial-sized bins were lined up alongside the wall making it difficult to get a full photo – so I wheeled three of them out of the way and the following five shots are the best ones I could get.
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Artist – Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
The next mural covered the full length and height of the single storey extension to a business premises but unfortunately the wall was at the back of a car park, so with cars parked all the way along it was impossible to get a full photo. I waited around for a while and eventually one car moved and I was able to get a shot of the centre part of the mural but I was disappointed not to get the whole thing as it looked really colourful.
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Artist – Alexandra Gallagher
Not far away from there was a coffee shop with rather a cute picture on its window. Okay, it wasn’t exactly street art but it was worth a photo though there was only one problem – people were sitting at tables outside, making it impossible to get a good shot of the window whichever angle I tried to take it from. So I came to a decision – I would split the walk into two parts, give up for the time being and return to Blackburn another day but very early in the morning. Hopefully then I could get a shot of the full mural with no cars in the way and also take a photo of the coffee shop window with no people in the way – so with that decision made, and happy with the shots I’d got so far, I headed back towards the station and the train home.
To be continued next week….

21 thoughts on “In search of Blackburn’s street art

  1. On balance, I would say that Blackburn possibly trumps Manchester’s current street art. My favourite is the wallpaper as I love early-1970s-style geometric wallpaper designs. I used to visit Blackburn frequently about 10 years ago when a close friend lived there, but haven’t been since she moved away. There was no street art then, so I might go back to see the city’s new look.

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    1. REPLY TO FIRST COMMENT (WordPress seems to love mixing up my initial replies!) If you haven’t been to Blackburn for so long you’ll be surprised at how much the town centre has changed. The big bus station has been moved from outside the railway station and there’s now a tall office building and a Premier Inn where it used to be, with most of the land round them now pedestrianised – the first photo gives you an idea. Roads and streets in the main shopping area have all been pedestrianised and the market has been incorporated into a big shopping centre. Up to this visit it had been ten years since I last went so remembering how it used to be gave me a weird feeling of knowing where I was but not KNOWING where I was, if that makes sense.

      The street art covers quite a wide area around the town, and even after a second visit I haven’t found all of it so I may even go back for a third time. If you go and you want a brew try The Refreshment Bar near Cash Generator in the main shopping area (if you can find it!) – I had a very nice and very filling ham omelette with salad and a lovely mug of coffee there the other day 🙂

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  2. Some wonderful street art there. It’ll be interesting to look up the artists and see their other work. It’s a shame Jerome Davenport’s art is down an alley spoiled with bins in the way, I do like those bees. I like the sculpture of mother and child too.

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  3. If you remember the ‘Tribal’ mural in my Manchester post, it was done by Dale Grimshaw, the same artist who did the one featured here. Have a look at Hayley Welsh’s website – https://www.hayleywelsh.com/ – the last picture on the home page is a mural I went looking for the other day in Blackburn (that will be in my next Monday Walks post). I love her cute whimsical creatures and would love one of her paintings but the prices are a bit out of reach unless I win the lottery 😦

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  4. The Open Walls festival itself isn’t on this year but maybe people are adding to the street art anyway as there are lots of murals spread over quite a wide area – maybe you should revisit sometime? The coffee shop window I wanted to photograph is the one you got – I found it by accident and remembered it was in one of your posts 🙂

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  5. Plan B worked out very well, it was a good decision to make 🙂 As much as I love the second Hayley Welsh one I think my favourite out of this lot is the duck.

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  6. How amazing, I love the work by Jerome Davenport. Look forward to additional photos if you are ever able to get there without fighting big wheelie bins 🙂

    Have you considered writing for some travel websites?

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  7. No I haven’t – it’s a nice thought as I love writing but to be honest I wouldn’t know how to go about it.

    Unfortunately I think big wheelie bins are a necessary evil, especially where town centre business premises are concerned as back alleys are probably the only places they can be kept. It’s the same here in my town centre, you can’t walk down a back street or alley without seeing several big bins. I could probably go to Blackburn every day for the rest of my life and still never be able to see the full Jerome Davenport mural 😦 I’ve no reason to go back now anyway as I found everything I wanted, and more besides, on my second visit – I’m already working on my post for next Monday 🙂

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  8. Some of these really are excellent pieces of work and there’s lots more to come next week. I only wish I could draw and paint like that, it must be a great talent to have.

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  9. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Blackburn is less than half an hour away from my home, I visited quite regularly when I was younger and it’s not the sort of town where I would expect to find street art so it’s great that this project was started three years ago to brighten up some of its walls. I really enjoyed searching out all the murals, especially the second time I went, though it did take a while to find them all 🙂

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  10. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post – there’s some more great murals to come in my next post 🙂 I’ve just had a quick look at your blog, those murals at Borth look fabulous, and the Shropshire Cat Rescue place sounds lovely 🙂

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  11. The artist of that one is extremely talented, he paints by hand – no spray cans at all – and is well known for his 28ft ‘breakdancing Jesus’ on a wall in Bristol, also a huge angel on a wall in Brighton. It must be wonderful to be so talented, I can’t draw or paint to save my life 😦

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