Festival celebrates Lancaster people who deserve their place in history
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Looking down on proceedings then was King Charles III’s ancestor, Queen Victoria, atop a memorial which also honours eminent Victorians.
A more 21st Century way of celebrating the great and good took over Dalton Square during the Light Up Lancaster festival recently.
It took a Czech Republic company of light artists to bring history to life in a most imaginative way with animated images of some of the area’s most famous local folk projected onto buildings once home to a cinema and the scene of a notorious murder.
The Lancastrians portrayed were selected following a joint research project between Light Up Lancaster and 3DSense from the Czech Republic with help from Alan Rice of Lancaster Black History Group.
Among the most familiar faces featured were entertainers Eric Morecambe and Thora Hird though perhaps the most entertaining part of the projection was the dinosaur which came roaring out of a window in tribute to Lancaster’s Dino Man himself, Sir Richard Owen.
War poet, Laurence Binyon, born in High Street and writer of For The Fallen, heard at most Remembrance Day services last week, was also featured as was Robert Gillow, seen moving a piece of his famous furniture around.
Playing their part too were renowned landscape architect, Thomas Mawson, and the inventor of the railway ticket, Thomas Edmondson, born in nearby Stonewell.
But the projection also paid homage to some lesser known people – mainly women – who had made history in their own special way.
These included Emily Williamson, born in Lancaster, who went on to become founder of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Years after her death, her importance is only just being recognised and after a fundraising campaign, a plaque is to be sited in Lancaster to acknowledge her work. A statue is also to be erected in Didsbury where she spent most of her life.
Another Lancastrian woman captured nature artistically so Mary Maria Fielding, born in the city in 1804, might have appreciated being featured in such an artistic endeavour as Light Up Lancaster.
The botanist and botanical illustrator produced six volumes of botanical watercolours between 1830-33 which have been cited as ‘an important source for the study of the country’s flora in the early Nineteenth Century.’
And another female artist featured in the projection was Mabel Pakenham-Walsh who died in 2013. This painter, sculptor and designer was a pioneer of European figurative art and was recognised as an early eco-artist. She also lived with disabilities so campaigned for disability rights throughout her life.
The projection even featured important siblings, Janet and Dick Raby – lighthouse keepers for Plover Scar and Cockersand.
Light Up Lancaster may have been switched off for another year, but it too has played its part in shining a new light on Lancastrians from all walks of life who deserve their place in history.