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Delight as Paisley Museum secures £4.9m National Lottery funding boost

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Ambitious plans to transform Paisley Museum into a world-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage and textile story are in line for a £4.9m National Lottery grant.

library

Renfrewshire Council this year set aside £24.1m towards the proposed £42m revamp – and the news the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have now earmarked funding is a massive boost allowing the project to move forward.

The museum plans are taking place as part of a wider drive to transform Paisley’s future through investment in heritage and culture, which includes a bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, due to be submitted to the UK Government on Friday.

They aim to reconnect the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern with the town that gave it its name, while creating a tourist attraction of national importance, driving footfall into the town centre.

The revamped museum – operated by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd – is forecast to attract 125,000 visits a year – almost four times current numbers – and create a £72m economic boost over 30 years.

It is also expected to support 138 jobs during the construction phase, and the equivalent of 42 new permanent jobs after that through increased visitor spend.

The plans are for an extension to the current Victorian-era building housing a cafe and shop, improvements to all four museum buildings including the Coats Observatory, changes to physical access, and an internal redesign which will double the number of objects on public display.

The museum plans are part of a wider investment in Paisley’s cultural infrastructure already under way with a publicly-accessible museum store to open later this year in a vacant basement on the town’s High Street, and a new learning and cultural hub to be built close by.

Council bosses have already had positive discussions with a number of other funders about meeting the rest of the cost. Today’s news means staff recruitment can start and the appointment of architects and exhibition design teams can take place next year.

The £4.9m funding will be confirmed once a successful stage two application is lodged with HLF. The new museum is expected to open in 2022, but it is planned the project will play a part in any UK City of Culture 2021 year.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said: “This is a wonderful piece of news from HLF and couldn’t have come at a better time, with our bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 being lodged this week.

“The museum plans are central to our wider vision to transform the town’s future by harnessing the power of Paisley’s internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

“We know the town centre has its challenges but the way people shop has changed forever – so we have to create new life and new footfall by finding new ways to bring people into the town.

“Paisley can do that by making the most of the unique selling point that is our heritage and textile story – and the museum revamp, along with the museum store due to open this year and the new library will drive new footfall to our high street.

“The town has some amazing items in its collection – but the current building needs revamped in order to get them out on display and to fully tell the story of how this town was once at the centre of a global industry.

“These projects are all part of a wider vision with the UK City of Culture bid at its heart – should we be announced at the winner of that title in December it will take the work we are doing to a totally new level.”

Seona Reid, deputy chair of HLF and chair of the Scotland Committee, said: “I know how much this project means to Paisley and its people. It’s vital to the great strides that are being made in revitalising the town, using its history and industrial heritage as the building blocks.

“I am delighted that thanks to players of the National Lottery, we are able to give our initial support to a project which will transform the museum and give Paisley’s internationally-important textiles and other collections the prominence they deserve.”

Paisley is the only Scottish place on the UK City of Culture shortlist and is joined by Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea, with the winner to be announced in December.

For more information on Paisley’s bid, see www.paisley2021.co.uk

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Major town centre investment to be considered by councillors

town hall spring

A major package of capital investment in Paisley town centre is set to be considered by Renfrewshire councillors when they meet next week.

Plans being put forward propose a package of investment totalling £45.7million in refurbishment and upgrades to Paisley Town Hall, Paisley Arts Centre, a new venue at the former Galbraith’s site on Back Sneddon Street in the town; improvements to Paisley town centre as well as an upgrade to St James Playing field.

town hall spring

Paisley Town Hall

The plans are part of the town’s final bid for the UK City of Culture 2021 competition, which is also being considered by councillors next week, with a decision on the winner expected by the end of the year.

Paisley was this summer named as the only Scottish bidder on the shortlist for the 2021 competition, alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

The bid is part of a wider push to use Paisley’s unique cultural and heritage offer to make it a key visitor destination within Scotland, and transform the future of the whole Renfrewshire area.

Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “The whole of Renfrewshire has such a rich heritage and world class local talent and this investment will bring significant benefit to communities right across the region.

“Culture and heritage can play such a transformational role in supporting our local economy and improving the opportunities and wellbeing for our communities, investing in improvements to our existing venues and our town centre environment, we can make a real change in the fortunes of the area.

“Winning the title will boost the local economy by £175million, create more than 4,700 local jobs in the area, boost our tourism industry and improve the profile of the area, showing investors how much Renfrewshire has to offer.”

The plans include:

£22million for Paisley Town Hall – to increase performance attendances and attract high quality events to improve the visitor experience and improve the physical infrastructure of the building to secure its long term future

£2.5 million for Paisley Arts Centre – to upgrade electrical works, improve toilet provision, provide changing accommodation for performers, new seating, improved staging, redecoration and improved access arrangements

£10million improvements to Paisley town centre – include improved access into the town centre, pedestrian and cycling routes, public transport, local traffic improvements and investment in the physical appearance of the town centre

£3.5million to transform the former Galbraith’s building on Back Sneddon Street to provide a venue for performance and visual art events.

£7.7million redevelopment of facilities at St James playing field including an upgrade to grass pitches, a new pavilion and café, and an area to accommodate large scale events; and an upgrade to the existing Ferguslie Park Sports Centre.

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Award winning photographer in the frame for exhibition

A DOUBLE exhibition of the work of award-winning Scots photographer Dougie Wallace has opened, at Paisley Museum.

The photographs chronicle the lives of the super-rich in London and also the Indian culture found on the streets of Mumbai.

04/09/17…
MUSEUM – PAISLEY.
Photographer Dougie Wallace exhibition.

The free exhibitions, presented by Street Level Photoworks, and called ‘Harrodsburg’ and ‘Road Wallah’ run every day, except Mondays, from September 2 to October 29.
Wallace is originally from Paisley, growing up in the west end of the town, attending West Primary and Castlehead High schools. His interest in photography began after taking pictures while backpacking around the world. He is now based in the London.

The exhibition of photographs ‘Harrodsburg’ is exclusive to Paisley Museum and this latest body of work from Wallace pushes the boundaries of the social documentary genre.
In ‘Harrodsburg’ – which won the inaugural Magnum Photography Award 2016 – he focuses on the rising economic and political power of the upper class one per cent of the population. Wallace’s photographs takes the viewer on an up-close safari of the wealthy London residential and retail district of Knightsbridge and Chelsea.

The second exhibition, ‘Road Wallah’ details the four years Wallace spent photographing the now defunct black and yellow Premier Padmini cabs of Mumbai.
These vehicles were famous for their garish, psychedelic interiors and the charisma of the drivers. Prior to the cars being phased out two years ago, Wallace visited the city 17 times, producing a stunning series of photographs featuring the iconic taxis and the part they played in Indian culture.

The photographs in this exhibition have previously been published as a book, which was short-listed for the 2015 European Book Publisher’s Award.

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, Joyce McKellar said: “The photographs from Dougie Wallace on display are the latest in high-end cultural exhibitions at Paisley Museum.
“The subject matters of his work could hardly be more diverse and the exhibition is a must-see for fans of top-quality documentary photography.”

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Thousands explore venues across Renfrewshire as part of Doors Open Days event

Thousands turned out across Renfrewshire at the weekend to visit the historic sights and locations which took part in the annual Doors Open Days event.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron meets kids eager to fill their passports at Paisley Abbey

Part of a worldwide event with over 50 countries taking part, Renfrewshire’s Doors Open Days is a celebration of the fantastic design and architectural history of the region.

Visitors to Paisley were afforded the opportunity to spot some of the unique features of the town, including the Paisley Abbey gargoyles and ‘Porridge Bowl’ roof of the John Neilson Institute, as well taking a look inside a building they hope never to be in again – Paisley Sheriff Court.

Those interested in the weaving history of the area had the opportunity to visit the Sma’ Shot Cottages and Tannahill’s Cottage –allowing a look inside the homes of both a typical weaver in the 18th Century and also the ‘Weaver Poet’ Robert Tannahill.

A weaver gets ready to spin at the Sma’ Shot Cottages in Paisley

Across the region, visitors had the chance to explore some of the outstanding visitor attractions which Renfrewshire has to offer.

Visitors take in the Road Wallah exhibit at Paisley Museum

Renfrew Fire Station opened its doors to allow aspiring fire fighters a glimpse inside and a chance to see the equipment used in emergency situations in action; while the Grade ‘B’ listed Victory Baths in the town gave visitors a guided tour of the historic, and often rumoured to be haunted, building.

A family explores the Grade ‘B’ listed Renfrew Victory Baths

For those who like to experience the great outdoors, Erskine’s Lamont Farm provided the perfect opportunity for families to meet some of the animals which live on the farm with handling sessions put on throughout the day.

Young people get a chance to meet the animals at Lamont Farm in Erskine

While at Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch, tours of the lookout tower gave visitors spectacular views across the loch and Garnock Valley.

A lucky visitor gets her hands on binoculars for a view of Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron took the opportunity to visit various places across Renfrewshire including a visit to learn more about Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture at the bid base on Paisley High Street.

Provost Cameron said: “Doors Open Days is a fantastic opportunity to visit those places across Renfrewshire we just never seem to get around to seeing.

“I was delighted to see so many people taking up the chance, as I did, to explore the beautiful buildings and venues which make our area such an inviting place to visit.

“This was just another part of a terrific year of events in the area and with our annual music, comedy and drama festival ‘The Spree’ just a few weeks away, it is an exciting time to live, work or visit Renfrewshire.”

The Spree festival takes place between 13-22 October and has yet another bumper line of talent set to grace the area.

Information on who’s playing and how to buy tickets is available at: www.thespree.co.uk.

For information on further events set to take place across Renfrewshire visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events orwww.Paisley2021.co.uk/events.

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Don’t miss your chance to look inside Renfrewshire’s historic landmarks

The ‘Porridge Bowl’, unique gargoyles and the home of Robert Burns’ compatriot are just a few of the intriguing sights and locations visitors to Renfrewshire can experience next weekend.

Paisley Abbey

Part of a worldwide event with over 50 countries taking part, Renfrewshire Doors Open Days is a celebration of the fantastic architecture and significant history of the region.

On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September, everyone will have the opportunity to experience a weekend of exploration around Renfrewshire as many venues not normally accessible to the public open their doors for a look inside.

Alison Christie with children at the Sma’ Shot Cottages

On Saturday, the home of Robert Tannahill, the ‘Weaver Poet’ who formed a close relationship with Robert Burns, will be open for visitors to see the extraordinary collection of memorabilia on display at what is now the home to one of the oldest Burns Clubs in the world.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to look inside the John Neilson Institute which, due to its distinctive roof, is nicknamed the Porridge Bowl and has become a distinct feature of Paisley’s skyline.

Sunday will see the Renfrew Victory Baths welcome visitors in on a guided tour of the striking Edwardian swimming pool  which was awarded Grade ‘B’ listed status in 1971, while Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch will offer tours of the lookout tower giving visitors to take in the spectacular views of the loch and Garnock Valley.

After the news Paisley has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021, its High St location will open its doors on both days to give everyone a chance to find out more about what the bid means for the area, what it could do for you and what’s still to come in the next few months.

More than 50 buildings and locations will be open for the public across the weekend ensuring there is something to peak everyone’s interest.

Kids can collect their own Doors Open Days passport from participating buildings and Renfrewshire’s libraries which they can fill up over the weekend with stamps.

Collecting five stamps will see them rewarded with a certificate and a gift in yet another reason to get involved.

Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron will be joining members of the public in exploring the area and can’t wait to see what she discovers.

Provost Cameron said: “We are extremely fortunate to have so many beautiful, historic buildings in Renfrewshire but it is not often that we take the time to visit them.

“Venues from across the area will open their doors to let us inside next weekend and I can’t wait to take up the opportunity.

“I will be at the Council chambers from 10am until midday so I’d be delighted to see you while I’m also looking forward to visiting the Sma’ Shot Cottages as it is always fascinating to hear the volunteers speak on the history of the weavers.

“So if you’ve always meant to visit Paisley Abbey, or never had the time to walk around Castle Semple, this weekend is the perfect opportunity so don’t miss out and visit as many locations as you can.”

The Renfrewshire Doors Open Day programme is available from all Renfrewshire libraries.

An online version can be downloaded from www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/doorsopendays

For a look forward to what’s coming up across Renfrewshire visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or www.paisley2021.co.uk/events

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Exhibition of prisoner artwork helps weave new side to Paisley 2021 bid

Prisoners at one of Scotland’s jails have created an exhibition of creative artwork inspired by Paisley – now on display in the town’s museum.

artwork depicting Paolo Nutini and John Byrne, while

The exhibition – called Weave – opened this week and features paintings, creative writing, sculpture, textiles and song produced by inmates at HMP Low Moss.

Paisley Museum’s Georgia Edmondson poses in the gallery

The programme was run by the Learning Centre at the prison, who each year work with Glasgow School of Art on a residency aimed at helping the prisoners turn their lives around by using creativity to express themselves.

As many of HMP Low Moss’s inmates are from the Paisley area, this year’s event was themed around the town – with input from the team behind Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

It saw a series of workshops inspired by Paisley’s story, including a demonstration of traditional weaving skills, and a songwriting masterclass run by the University of the West of Scotland.

End products include striking paintings of famous Buddies Paolo Nutini and John Byrne, and artwork depicting local features such as Paisley Town Hall, the Paisley Pattern…and even the logo of the Paisley Pirates ice hockey team.

The free-to-visit exhibition was curated by staff at Paisley Museum – who also worked with the prisoners – and runs from this week until October.

The programme was run by Ruth Facchini, learning manager at HMP Low Moss, who said: “To make our society safer, it pays to channel offenders’ energies to positive ends, build their self-worth and help them learn new skills.

“The arts are an especially effective way of engaging with offenders who feel alienated from mainstream education and employment, and there is growing evidence they are effective in turning around offenders’ lives.

“I have already had amazing feedback from people who have viewed the exhibition and our guys who produced it could not be more thrilled to have their work recognised and appreciated.

“They feel valued and that they have contributed something really positive to their community.

“We in HMP Low Moss are firmly behind Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021. The town needs regeneration and an economic boost, and our learners – who know more than most about deprivation and lack of opportunity – recognise what a winning bid might bring to Paisley.”

Margaret Scott, Development Manager in the Paisley 2021 bid team, said: “We were delighted to be able to work with the staff and prisoners at HMP Low Moss on this hugely worthwhile project.

“We know involvement in culture makes people’s lives better – one of the key themes of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is in making those benefits available to every segment of our community.

“This exhibition shows us putting that into practice – by reaching members of society most in need of a change of direction and, through the power of culture, helping equip them to do that.

“It’s also a great example of partnership in action – with staff from the Scottish Prison Service, the 2021 bid team, Renfrewshire Leisure and the prison charity the Koestler Trust – all playing a part.

“The quality of the artwork is fantastic and really tells the town’s story – I would encourage the public to get along and check out the exhibition for themselves.”

Paisley is bidding for the prestigious title as part of a wider push to transform the town’s future using the power of its internationally-significant heritage and cultural story.

Earlier this month, Paisley was confirmed by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as the only Scottish place on the final shortlist – which also features Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.

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

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Joel’s marriage proposal is a work of art

ROMANTIC Joel Fagan chose a painting to go on display at Paisley Museum because it shows the exact spot where he proposed to his wife, Jennifer.

Joel Fagan points to the spot on the Loch Etive painting where he proposed

Joel, 24, is a collections assistant at the museum and along with other staff and members of Paisley Art Institute, was asked to select a painting for an exhibition called Random Selection.

When Joel was looking through photographs of paintings owned by the museum and the Art Institute, he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a painting of Loch Etive, by artist David Munro from 1872.

And on the bottom right hand corner of the painting he could even see the rocks where his then fiancé was sitting when he went down on one knee and asked: “Will you marry me?”

Joel and his wife, Jennifer on their wedding day

Now that painting will be one of 50 works featured in the free Random Selection exhibition, which opened on Friday, July 7 and runs until Monday, September 25.

Joel Fagan with the painting of Loch Etive, in Paisley Museum

Joel explained how he came to propose marriage two years ago during a trip to the remote Highlands of Scotland:

“We were working in England at the time, but Jennifer always had romantic ideas about Scotland and its scenery and wanted to visit.

‘So, I organised a five-day tour of Scotland and since I already had the engagement ring, planned to pop the question at some point during that holiday.
“We drove five miles down a single-track road to get to the lochside and had a picnic there. The scenery was so stunning I knew this was the right time and place to ask Jennifer if she would marry me.”

Joel continued: “Jennifer was sitting on the rocks – the same ones that you can see in the painting – looking out on to the water when I asked her to turn round. I had the ring in my hand and I told her that I hadn’t just brought her here for a picnic.

“I got down on one knee and asked if she would marry me. It was such an emotional moment that she started crying and said of course she would.”

The couple married earlier this year and now stay in Paisley.

Joel added: “When I was asked to choose some artwork for the exhibition and saw the painting I was shocked. It brought back some incredible memories for me.

“Jennifer can’t believe it either and I’ve no doubt she’ll be a regular visitor to the exhibition!”

Chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure – which runs arts, culture, sports and leisure facilities locally – Joyce McKellar said: “It’s amazing – and very romantic – that Joel came across a painting that means so much to him and his wife.

“The exhibition features a huge variety of paintings form 16th century religious art to modern contemporary works, so we expect it will be very popular.”

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Renfrewshire and Clydeside’s industrial decline caught on camera

An exhibition of photographs showing the industrial decline of Renfrewshire and Clydeside in the mid Seventies has opened in Paisley Museum.

opening of an exhibition by New York photographer, Larry Herman at paisley museum

New York-born photographer, Larry Herman took the series of pictures between 1974 and 1976 when the once-heavily industrialised region was suffering from many shipyard and factory closures, as the economy foundered.

Herman has hand-printed a new set of 78 black and white gelatin prints for the free exhibition, which is being toured by Street Level Photoworks. The exhibition – Clydeside 1974-76 – runs from June 17 until August 20.

Several of the images were taken in Ferguslie and Linwood giving an intimate glimpse into the lives of local workers four decades ago.

Much of Herman’s work was held in a collection by the Scottish Arts Council, but has now been distributed to various holdings, including the National Galleries of Scotland.

Herman was born in New York, trained as a sculptor and immigrated to the UK during the Vietnam War.

His photography career flourished in the Seventies, but he gave up taking pictures in the Eighties and became a guard and train driver on the London Underground and then worked as a welder in a Sheffield steelworks. He took up photography again in 1993 and returned to London in 1999.

Herman said: “At the time I was shooting these pictures I had no idea they would have some resonance in 2017. I didn’t take the photographs with posterity in mind, but as a documentary of what was happening at the time.

“I photographed people in the situations they found themselves in and I wanted my work to be realistic.”

Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure, which runs sports, leisure and cultural facilities locally said: “People coming to see this exhibition will be able to take a step back in time.

“These photographs graphically document what was happening to the working-class of the area during an acute economic decline.


“The exhibition will be of particular interest to Renfrewshire as quite a few of the photographs were taken in Paisley and Linwood.”

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New funding plans revealed for £42m Paisley Museum revamp

A fresh set of funding plans have been unveiled to transform Paisley Museum into an international-class destination based around the town’s unique heritage story.

Councillors will next week be asked to approve a new approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £4.9m for the project, which aims to reconnect the globally-recognised Paisley Pattern with the town which gave it its name.

The latest application comes after a previous approach to HLF for £10m narrowly missed out in the latest, highly-competitive, UK-wide round of funding.

The project is a key part of a wider strategy to use Paisley’s unique heritage story to transform its future, including a bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

The refreshed funding plans bring the total cost down to £42m from £49m, but retain the original vision of a visitor experience of international quality, hoped to more than triple current visitor numbers.

Renfrewshire Council has already set aside £24.1m from its own resources towards the revamp.

Members of Renfrewshire Council’s Leadership Board will next week be asked to approve the new bid to HLF and the revised project timeline.

The previous £10m approach to HLF was one of 23 projects making up a £235m funding ask – the largest request for grants over £5m HLF had ever received – with only £40m available.

Paisley Museum made it on to a shortlist from which only four were funded – but earned praise from HLF bosses for its vision and quality.

The plans include an extension to the existing Victorian-era building, creating extra space for internationally-significant exhibits including the world’s largest collection of Paisley shawls.

The proposed timeline remains the same – the museum would close in summer 2018 and reopen in 2022. Work to involve the local community in creating the content of the new museum would feature strongly in any UK City of Culture 2021 programme.

The museum revamp is closely linked to other investment in Paisley’s cultural infrastructure – work is well under way on £3.7m plans to create a publicly-accessible museum store on the town’s high street, to house items not on display in the main museum, due to be complete by end 2017.

Construction is also set to start this year on a new learning and cultural hub in a vacant high-street unit, creating a new modern and accessible facility and allowing the town’s lending library to move from its current home next to the museum.

The museum, store and library will all be operated by Renfrewshire Leisure Ltd.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our revised plans for Paisley Museum retain our ambition of an international-class museum for Renfrewshire.

“While we are disappointed the previous application to HLF was not a success, the feedback made clear the application was of high quality and had no weaknesses.

“In the end we were extremely unlucky to miss out in an unusually-competitive round of funding at a time where available money was very tight.

“However the important point is we now have a viable set of refreshed funding plans which can still deliver a project meeting the original aims.

“The museum project is one of several which will help bring new life and footfall into our town centres – helping create a new type of town centre economy and boosting local trade, while also capitalising on everything Renfrewshire has to offer and making the area a key destination for heritage tourism.”

Members of the Leadership Board will consider the new funding plans when they meet on 20 June.

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Fun and laughter at marathon Bookbug session

TODDLERS had a marathon session of fun and laughter in the longest ever Bookbug session held at Paisley Central Library.
To celebrate Bookbug Week, Renfrewshire Leisure staged a Gigglethon in the library on Monday.


The theme of the Gigglethon was humour and children under the age of five, along with their parents or carers were invited to come along any time during the day to have some fun and a good laugh.
And everyone at the Gigglethon was given a free book, mask and sticker courtesy of the Scottish Book Trust.


The event, at Central Library is just one of several fun sessions being held in libraries and venues throughout Renfrewshire to celebrate Bookbug’s Big Giggle.
Joyce McKellar, chief executive of Renfrewshire Leisure said: “Our libraries are really fun places to go all the year round, but the marathon Gigglethon was extra special.”
Log on to www.renfrewshirelibraries.co.uk for more information about Bookbug Week sessions locally.