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Real-life Princess Leia launches Star Wars toys exhibition

A REAL-LIFE Princess Leia yesterday launched a unique exhibition of Star Wars toys and memorabilia that has come to Scotland for the first time.

Leia Brown, aged 10, from Paisley, who was named after Princess Leia, launches a Star Wars toys exhibition at Paisley Museum

Leia Brown isn’t just named after the space heroine from a galaxy far away, she was also born on May 4, which is known by fans as Star Wars Day – as in ‘may the fourth be with you’!


And the force was definitely with ten-year-old Leia when she got a sneak preview of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition, at Paisley Museum.

Leia Brown, aged 10, from Paisley and Star Wars toys collector, Matt Fox at the launch of the May The Toys Be With You exhibition at Paisley Museum

Shortly after Leia was born, her Star Wars fan dad, Peter persuaded mum, Paula to name her after Princess Leia. And after seeing the movies over the years she was growing up, Leia loves Star Wars as well.

The May The Toys Be With You exhibition is free and open from today, Saturday, March 18 until May 29.
The exhibition features one of the UK’s finest collections of vintage Star Wars toys, original cinema posters and memorabilia. It also includes fun family activities and additional Star-Wars related workshops during the Easter holidays.


Leia said: “I love everything about Star Wars and I’m always dressing up as Princess Leia. I’m glad mum and dad gave me that name.

“I’m really excited about May The Toys Be With You and being chosen to launch the exhibition. It’ll be great fun as it’s got lots of amazing toys and things about Star Wars to see.”

The collection of more than 400 exhibits and worth £100,000 is owned by 44-year-old Star Wars enthusiast Matt Fox, from Canterbury, in Kent, who was given his first Star Wars Darth Vader figure by his parents on his fifth birthday.

He said: “I can still remember sitting in the back of the car so excited and ripping open the packaging to get my hands on the Darth Vader figure.

“My love affair with Star Wars began when I saw the first movie in 1977 and from that day all I would ask my parents at birthdays and Christmas as a present would be Star Wars figures.

“This was in the days before we had videos to watch the movies again and again and the only way kids could recreate the adventures they saw in Star Wars movies was to play with the figures.

“My galaxy was under the dining room table!”

As a teenager Matt stopped asking for Star Wars toys, but years later, as a 28-year-old, he was in the loft of his parents’ home and came across a big box. When he opened the box he was amazed to see all his Star Wars toys had been kept safely by his parents.

“I looked into the box and it was like a golden glow of nostalgia beaming up at me,” he revealed. “It was quite an emotional moment and that’s when I started to seriously collect Star Wars memorabilia again.

“They say collecting is an illness and sharing is the cure and that’s what I want to do with this exhibition – let as many people, young and old, experience the same excitement as I have about Star Wars.”

One of the most rare exhibits on show at Paisley Museum is an original painting by artist Tom Beauvais, from 1977, as the poster for the very first Star Wars film.

However, his painting never appeared as the movie poster, as an illustration by his colleague, Tom Chantrell was used instead.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “This exhibition is a must-see for all Star Wars fans.
“It’s a celebration of the now highly-collectable vintage toy line and also of the iconic design work and art of the Star Wars movies.”

Paisley City of Culture 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “The Star Wars films remain as iconic and popular as ever and I am sure there will be huge interest in this exhibition at Paisley Museum over the next few months,

“That will bring visitors to the town and help raise awareness of Paisley’s wider cultural offer.
“Our outline programme for Paisley 2021 will be open and accessible, and will bring culture for all – and this exhibition is a great example of what that could mean. May the Force be with Paisley’s bid!”

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Funding boost means green light for £5m High Street library

Work to build a new £5m library in an empty unit on Paisley’s High Street will start this year – in the latest stage of the push to use culture to breathe new life into Paisley’s High Street.

Renfrewshire Council had already made £3.5m available for the project – and the final piece of the funding jigsaw arrived today with confirmation of a £1.5m grant from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

The project will see the existing Paisley Central Library relocated from its existing home adjoining Paisley Museum to the unit at 22 High Street, formerly the Internacionale store, to form a new learning and cultural centre.

The move is part of a wider effort by the council to use culture to transform the fortunes of the town centre, taking place alongside the UK City of Culture 2021 bid.

Work is already under way on a publicly-accessible museum store in a formerly-empty unit at 9 High Street, due to open later this year.

And plans are moving forward for a £49m revamp of Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around Renfrewshire’s unique heritage, which would bring an estimated extra 125,000 visitors per year to the town centre.

The library project will involve a major refurbishment of the building and a new shopfront but will retain the historic façade on the upper levels, in keeping with the rest of the High Street.

The new facility would be managed by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd and is planned to be open by the end of 2019. A consultation with existing, lapsed and non-users of the current library last year showed they were mainly supportive of the principle of relocating to the High Street.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: “We are delighted to have attracted the money needed to top up the council’s previously-announced investment in this project.

“I am sure people will welcome the fact this is bringing an empty High Street unit back into use – the new library is just one strand of a wider push to use cultural attractions to transform Paisley town centre.

“Changes in shopping behavior have created tough times for traditional town centres everywhere – but we can’t turn the clock back and we won’t sit back and manage decline either.

“Paisley has a huge amount to offer in terms of architecture, heritage and culture – and we can use all of those to bring people here and generate the footfall through which existing and new businesses can thrive.

“The new library, the museum store and the planned museum revamp will all help do that – and if we were to win UK City of Culture 2021 we could look forward to one million visitors that year.

“But good things are already happening – with free public wifi on its way, a £5m revamp of the Russell Institute nearing completion and work to bring the former Arnotts site back into use as new flats and a restaurant.

“The library project is just the latest piece of good news on that front – and it will also provide a first-class learning resource for the area’s children and young people, with a greater range of new technology for 21st-century learning.

“And the new modern building will be fully equipped to offer improved physical access than is possible at the library’s current location.”

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Paisley celebrates International Women’s Day

A SERIES of events has been organised by Renfrewshire Leisure to celebrate International Women’s Day.


Tonight, Tuesday, March 7, at 7.30pm Paisley Arts Centre hosts a groundbreaking production of If I Had A Girl, which gives an insight into honour-based violence in ethnic minority communities in Scotland. A post-show discussion about the issues raised in the play will take place after the performance.

 

On International Women’s Day, Wednesday, March 8 there will be a free lecture called, Mighty Women of Science, in Paisley Museum, at 1.30pm. This will take an enlightening look at some well-known and not so well-known women who have changed and continue to change the science world.

And the same evening, at 6.45pm, in Paisley Arts Centre, three musicians – Linzi Clark, Heir of the Cursed and Marie Collins will perform.

On Tuesday, March 14, at 7.30pm Paisley Arts Centre stages the play Expensive Sh**. This tells the story of a Nigerian nightclub toilet attendant, working in a fictional club based on the Shimmy Club in Glasgow, who had dreams of becoming a dancer with the revolutionary band of the late Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti.

Tickets for ‘If I Had A Girl’ and ‘Expensive Sh**’ are available at Paisley Arts Centre box office on 0300 300 1210 or online www.renfrewshireleisure.com/arts.

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Museum store to bring new life to Paisley High Street

Paisley will soon be home to Scotland’s first high street museum store – as part of a wider plan to use culture and creativity to help breathe new life into the town centre.

museum decant team members Stella Hook,Joel Fagan, Cllr Jim Harte and, Archie Henderson

Work is well advanced on the £2.7m facility, expected to open at the end of 2017, which will house tens of thousands of items from Paisley’s internationally-significant museum collection not on display in the main museum.

The store will occupy the basement of the unit at 7 High Street, currently being fitted out, and will be accessible to the public via a shopfront entrance.

Stella is holding the Egyptian Shabti

The work is being taken forward by Renfrewshire Council in connection with Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021

Currently, a team is preparing and packing the items at an existing storage facility elsewhere in the town, ahead of the mammoth decant to take place later in the year.

Archie is holding the mediaeval cross fragment

And some of the team gave a sneak peek of the quality and depth of the collection to be housed in the store, by showing off items including:
– a ceremonial 5,000-year-old hand axe dating back to the Neolithic era;
– a fragment of a 10th-century medieval cross found at Inchinnan;
– a copper mould for a frieze of the Parthenon created by renowned 19th century Paisley sculptor John Henning;
– a Paisley tram driver’s badge from the 1960s;

Also on show was an Egyptian Shabti – a small sculpture buried with a person and expected to serve them in the afterlife – dating back to the 26-27th dynasty.

The museum store is intended to complement plans for a £49m revamp of the main Paisley Museum, further up the High Street, due to be turned into an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage story by 2022.

The completed facility will be managed by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd, and Councillor Jim Harte, chair of RL, joined the decant team to preview the items.

He said: “Other places in Scotland have publicly-accessible museum stores, but this is the first time such a facility has been built on a High Street, and will bring a previously-empty unit back into use.

“High streets everywhere – including Paisley’s – have suffered in recent years from changes in the way people shop.

“But we can’t turn the clock back – we need to be creative in finding new ways to repopulate units, and bring in new footfall which existing traders can benefit from.

“The museum store is part of a wider effort to use cultural attractions to do that, along with the UK City of Culture 2021 bid, the plans to revamp the main museum – which we expect to bring 125,000 visitors a year to the town centre – and the relocation of Paisley Central Library to a vacant unit on the high street.

“It was great to meet the team behind the decant and hear the stories behind some of the fascinating items they are uncovering every day.

“Once opened, the facility will give the people of Renfrewshire a chance to see the full extent of the town’s incredible and internationally-significant collection, while also being a top-class educational resource bringing history to life for our pupils.”

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Coats supports Paisley bid to become UK city of Culture 2021

Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 has been backed by a famous global name which started life in the town – Coats, the world’s leading industrial thread manufacturer.

The Renfrewshire town is bidding for the title as part of wider plans to transform its future using its heritage and cultural assets.

Coats has strong links with Paisley as its origins can be traced back to the Coats and Clark families that created the weaving and textile industries there during the 1750s.

Rajiv Sharma, Group Chief Executive, Coats, said: ‘Coats is very proud of its heritage and Paisley is where it all began.  This bid will help transform the future of Paisley by bringing much-needed regeneration and opportunities that will give the town the civic pride it rightly deserves once more.’

In the 1880s Paisley was one of the fastest growing towns in the UK and more than 10% of its 60,000 population were employed by the Coats or Clark firms, which came together in the 1890s to form Coats.

The families were major benefactors to the town of Paisley including iconic buildings such as the Coats Observatory – one of only three remaining public observatories in Scotland  – and the A-listed cast-iron Grand Fountain, recently restored to its former glory.

They also funded the building of Paisley Museum and bequeathed many items which remain in the town’s collections. Renfrewshire Council last year revealed plans for a £49m revamp of the museum to turn it into an international-class heritage attraction by 2022.

Coats still retains a presence in the town today through its global Colour Systems Team, which is based in the Mile End Mill building.

The team is an integral part of the global business and leads the development of cutting-edge colour management technology which drives best practice and productivity improvements across Coats’ 45 thread dyehouse operations around the world.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director Jean Cameron said: “We are thrilled to have one of Paisley’s most famous names on board for the bid.

“Paisley’s name is known around the world for the role it played in shaping the global textile industry. But as much as Paisley made textiles, textiles also made Paisley.

“The legacy left by the Coats and Clarks is all around us in the town today in our buildings and in our people – and that legacy will feature strongly in our bid when it is lodged.”

The UK City of Culture competition is run by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport and bids are due to be lodged in April.

To find out more about Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 go to: http://www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Pupils show their artistic side for major exhibition

A RECORD number of works of art by school pupils has been put on show at the annual Inspired exhibition, at Paisley Museum.

From left artistic pupils, Beth Daly, Ola Muir and Sophie Thompson

The exhibition features more than 120 drawings and paintings from children at local nursery schools to young adults in their final year at secondary school.

It runs from until Tuesday, April 18


Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “The aim of the exhibition is to showcase the art and design skills of pupils in Renfrewshire’s nursery, primary and secondary schools.
“And this year we have a record number of exhibits, which further enhances Paisley’s reputation as a place of culture.
“The exhibition displays how the artistic skills progress from the early works of three and four year olds through to the sophisticated and talented pieces which form a Fifth or Sixth Year pupil’s folio for national qualifications.
“The exhibition is called Inspired as that’s exactly what it shows – a reflection of the personal perspective of the young artist and the things which inspire them.”

Joyce added: “The pieces on display are both humorous and sophisticated. Some of the drawings of the very young children will certainly raise a smile and the work of the older pupils are very impressive and are of a professional standard.”

Organisers of Inspired are also working in partnership with The National Gallery of Scotland, as after the exhibition closes, much of the work featured will be sent for consideration in their National Tesco Bank Art Competition.
And 13 pieces of work will be chosen to feature in the Renfrewshire Provost’s 2018 Calendar

A new feature of the exhibition this year is a cardboard model of an imaginary Paisley City created by students, young people and their families as part of the Made in Paisley programme under the direction of West College Scotland and Ice Cream Architecture.

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Celebrating Burns Night? – Paisley Museum has evidence the Bard loved to party

A wonderful, rare Burns manuscript that was recently rediscovered in the collection of Paisley Museum has gone on display in the museum in time for Burns Night.

The text, which has been authenticated as genuine, is the Bard’s response to a party invitation from friends.

 

Sir,

Yours this moment I unseal,

And faith I’m gay and hearty!

To tell the truth and shame the deil,

I am as fou as Bartie:

But Foorsday, sir, my promise leal,

Expect me o’ your partie,

If on a beastie I can speel

Or hurl in a cartie.

Yours,

Robert Burns

 

Machlin,

Monday Night, 10 o’clock

 

A letter to the Museum from Professor Gerard Carruthers from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow says the poem dates back to 1785 – 1786.

It is on display at Paisley Museum alongside a portrait of Burns by James Tannock (1784 – 1862) until Sunday, 19th February.

For more information on Paisley Museum visit www.renfrewshireleisure.com   

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Brothers team up for first joint art exhibition

AN art exhibition featuring the work of two Paisley-born brothers, Kevin and Dermott Egan has opened in the town’s Museum and Art Galleries.

Kevin Egan and his brother, Dermott at their art exhibition in Paisley Museum and Art Galleries.

Much of the brothers’ paintings, drawings, carvings and sculptures relate to their working class roots growing up in both Paisley’s Ferguslie Park and Glenburn housing schemes.

The free exhibition, Form and Colour: A Way of Being in the World, runs until February 26.

Kevin, 61 and 57-year-old Dermott come from a very creative family. Their brother Tommy was a well-known folk singer locally and their late brother, Jim was also an accomplished singer of folk music and popular standards of the 1950s and 60s, appearing on radio and television.

Another brother, Joe enjoyed chart success in the music business as one half of the band, Stealer’s Wheel along with fellow-Paisley singer-songwriter, Gerry Rafferty.

Following a college course in commercial art, Dermott worked for different artistic agencies producing posters for venues like The Pavilion and King’s Theatres, in Glasgow. Some of his early artistic work in this field can be found in the Mitchell Library archive.

Kevin’s early work was in polychrome bas relief and free standing sculpture. His relief carvings – produced for the Marquis of Bute – can still be seen at Mount Stuart House, on the Isle of Bute. One of these particular pieces was shortlisted for the Saltire Prize.

Kevin said: “All our family were good at art and at the same time all of us, including Dermott and I were also musical and could sing.
“I suspect that on a subconscious level, Dermott and I decided to take the road of painting, drawing and sculpture, so as not to compete with our older brothers.
“When you’re in such a big family you try to find your own place to be creative and we choose art.”
Dermott adds: “Almost all of my art and much of Kevin’s is based on Paisley and the worthies we knew when we were growing up.
“This is our first joint exhibition and we hope that when people come along they bring their imagination with them and share some of the unexpected discoveries we have made while creating our art.”

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2017 programme of the PAI

2017 programme of the Paisley Art Institute.  Come back soon as more details to follow.

Both exhibitions will be shown in the familiar venue of Paisley Museum and Art Galleries

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Scottish Labour leader backs Paisley 2021 bid

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has publicly backed Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021, in the latest show of cross-party political support for the town’s ambitions.

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Photos courtesy of Hannah Thomson for Paisley.org.uk

 

The Scottish Labour leader gave her backing during a visit to Paisley Museum where she met young people involved in an award winning creative youth project being funded by the bid.

The bid has received cross-party support, with local politicians hosting events in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

The growing support follows on from recent high-profile backers of the campaign, with musician Paolo Nutini and artist John Byrne – who both hail from the town – having done so in recent weeks.

While visiting the town, she was met by Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan, Paisley 2021 Bid Manager Stuart McMillan and by participants in Project Z – which will see young people from the town’s Ferguslie Park area trained to write and create their own graphic novels.

 

The project was part-funded by the area’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund, a £500,000 five-year scheme which aims to boost the capacity of the local creative scene during the Paisley 2021 bid.

It also received funding from Renfrewshire Council’s ground-breaking Tackling Poverty Programme, which covers a wide range of projects aimed at taking on long-term deprivation issues in the area.

The Paisley 2021 bid aims to use the town’s outstanding collection of heritage and cultural assets to improve the area’s prospects and transform its future.

Kezia’s visit to Paisley Museum comes in the week a fundraising strategy was unveiled for a £49m redevelopment of the Victorian-era building which aims to turn it into a visitor experience of international quality, telling the inspirational stories of Paisley, its heritage and its pattern.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said:

“I am delighted to back Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture in 2021. A successful bid can support the work Renfrewshire Council is already doing to transform Paisley and would leave a legacy that could improve the lives of people in the town.

“Culture can change the lives of young people living in poverty. Supporting people to develop new skills means they can grow their confidence and compete for the jobs of the future. I had the privilege of meeting with some very talented and engaging young people. All they need is the right support to have a fair chance in life. Paisley’s bid for City of Culture 2021 can be part of that.

“The Glasgow City Deal also provides an opportunity to regenerate Renfrewshire. The UK and Scottish governments should deliver the necessary funding as soon as possible, so people in Renfrewshire can start to feel the benefit of this investment.”

Councillor Mark Macmillan said:

“It was great to welcome Kezia to Paisley today and talk her through the ambitious and hugely exciting vision we have for the town over the years ahead.

“It was also good to meet some of the young people taking part in one of our innovative tackling poverty projects – ultimately the Paisley 2021 bid is about the power of culture to change people’s lives for the better.

“Paisley Museum was a fitting venue for the visit given its status as the anchor project in our plans – the proposed revamp is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year into the town centre, creating a boost to the local economy and attracting new jobs.

“Running alongside the major infrastructure improvements being delivered through the Glasgow City Region City Deal – including our plans for a tram-train link between Glasgow Airport and Paisley Gilmour Street Station – major opportunities lie ahead for Renfrewshire and we want to ensure the future for local communities is a bright one.”

Hayden Chivers, aged 18, and a member of Project Z, said:

“This project is a fantastic opportunity that helps improve our life skills and prepare us for the world of work. We’ve been meeting weekly in the local library in Ferguslie Park and we do activities such as creative writing, drama and visual art.

“The project has really benefited many of us and helped us by encouraging us to either stay on at school or go to college, some of us have part-time jobs or volunteer for other organisations. I’m proud to be from Paisley and delighted to be able to show others how great it is to live in this town.”

The team was successful in its application to the Culture, Heritage and Events Fund as part of Paisley’s City of Culture bid and will involve them working on a social history project based on the punk movement in Paisley and other subcultures popular in the town and the legacy left today. The end product will be an exhibition of film, photography and a graphic novel.

For more information, visit www.paisley2021.co.uk