Eric and Lubaina urge public to help transform "tired Harris"

Discover why TV antiques expert Eric Knowles and Turner prize winning artist Lubaina Himid are asking the public to donate to £25K Friends of the Harris appeal - and why now.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 7:00 am

An internationally acclaimed artist and a Lancastrian TV celebrity are backing ​an appeal to help fund ambitious plans to transform Preston's Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library.

City charity the Friends of The Harris has announced that Turner prize winner and local UCLan academic Lubaina Himid and TV's Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt expert Eric Kowles have added their voices to a bid by the Friends to raise £25,000 to​w​ards the​ £10m+ ​#HarrisYourPlace plans.

Eric and Lubaina explain in new videos what the Harris means to them and why they are in favour of the project. They say the reimagined Harris will meet the need​s​ of future generations who will use and visit the iconic building. Both quote the words of the Harris architect James Hibbert: "Nothing is too good for the people of Preston".

Eric Knowles and Lubaina Himid pictured in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston

​They also explain why they ​are keen to see local people support the project now by making a donation, large or small.

The appeal is timely. Crucially the result of​ a £4.5m bid for funding to support the project from The National Lottery Heritage Fund​ is due this spring. It is known ​the Fund trustees will make their decision based partly on ​the ​local support shown for the project​ - hence the Friends' funding and awareness raising campaign.

The Friends aim to help show that both the city and county support the plans to turn the landmark city building into a world-class cultural attraction, learning space and community hub.

​Lancastrian ​Eric​, originally​ from Nelson​,​ first visited the museum and gallery as a teenager​. He credits it with inspiring his passion for ceramics and glass​, but says it is now "tired".

Reimagining the Harris (design and image Ralph Applebaum Associates)

Meanwhile Lubaina, who works internationally, but lives in Preston, names the Harris as the museum which supported her over many years as she developed her career.

Eric s​aid​: “The Harris is a bit like a condensed version of the V&A. It's better than I remember it the last time I visited. It's all here; you don't have to get down to London. I think the sheer variety of what's on display at the Harris should light the fuse of creativity for young people.​"

However, he also noted: "​Every day almost 1000 people, from all walks of life, visit the Harris, but after 127 years, it's tired. #HarrisYourPlace is going to be for the people of Preston and for the people of Lancashire and that's why I'm supporting it...Every donation will show local support.”

​Lubaina said: ​“The Harris supported me when museums in all sorts of grander cities weren't taking as much notice. There's a kind of aspirational strategy at the Harris. It's so important in the city. Now it needs urgent repair, so more of it will be open for you to enjoy. I want it to be there for the people who need it, forever.”

TV antiques expert Eric Knowles

She added: "The Harris has a unique role in the development or enrichment of young people's lives...It has a unique place in the city. The Harris needs to be relevant for the people of today and tomorrow."

Everyone who donates at least £10 ​to the Friends appeal ​will receive a set of five exclusive Harris bookmarks as a thank you.

Greta Krypczyk-Oddy, Chair of the Friends, said: “Both Eric and Lubaina are long term supporters of the Harris, having seen how it benefits hundreds of thousands of people each year. We are delighted that they are both supporting our public fundraising campaign. Raising £25,000 will show genuine popular backing for #HarrisYourPlace and help make sure the big National Lottery Heritage Fund grant comes to Preston to make the project a reality next year.”

​#HarrisYourPlace​ seeks to establish the Harris as the UK’s first blended museum, art gallery and library​. ​C​ollections​ will be displayed​ not only in gallery spaces but also in the café​.​​ It is planned to ensure exhibitions reflect Preston’s diverse culture and history better and, if funding is awarded, much-needed conservation works on the roof and basement​ will go ahead ​helping to ease a long-standing damp problem.

Reimagining the Harris (design and image Ralph Applebaum Associates)

​For more information see ​www.theharris.org.uk/support-us/harris-your-place.

Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid