Mayor responds to Preston sign protest

Posted on - 23rd April, 2022 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Flag Market, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
The Preston sign with chains added for Tim's art intervention Pic: Tim Saunders
The Preston sign with chains added for Tim’s art intervention Pic: Tim Saunders

The Mayor of Preston, Councillor Javed Iqbal, has responded to an art intervention that protested against the new Preston sign.


The sign – commissioned by Preston City Council and currently located on the Flag Market – is said to ‘symbolise the rich history of the cotton and textile industry’.

However local artist Tim Saunders said he couldn’t understand why the cotton trade was chosen to be celebrated, and added chains to the sign to represent the industry’s link to slavery and exploitation.

Read more: ‘Poor squalid deformed beings’ – cotton magnates employ child labour in Preston

In response, Councillor Iqbal said: “The unique design and creation of the new sign installation by Preston-based David Cox Architects, is large-scale art acknowledgement of the city’s deep heritage of the cotton and textile industrial past, whilst looking towards a strong future for the city, following the Covid pandemic.

“Whilst it is acknowledged by everyone that Preston’s cotton and mill heritage does include links to the slave trade, this particular installation’s vision is to build forwards after a difficult time through the pandemic, growing a strong and inclusive future for all of Preston city residents and visitors.”

In a note added to the art intervention, Tim also questioned the choice of white ropes, and pointed out that no artists had been involved in the public ‘art’.

Message about Preston sign art intervention Pic: Tim Saunders
Tim added a note to the sign as part of his art intervention Pic: Tim Saunders

On these topics Councillor Iqbal said: “The large white threads woven into the design signal Preston’s cotton weaving history, along with the blue-coated steel, both symbolising and drawing together Preston’s own widely known colours. 

“This year, we have a variety of art installations by local artists – the Preston sign is just one part of the exciting plans that are taking shape throughout our city.”

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