St Helens Seeks a New Motto

The Big Art Project is taking hold in St Helens as the town searches for a new motto which celebrates it.

With 400 years of mining history, school pupils and community groups were asked to think of a new motto using only letters from the gates of the town’s former colliery.

The Daily Post had a sneak preview last night of the 28 mottos created from the words “National Coal Board Sutton Manor Colliery”.

Realise Your Roots and A Smile Says It All are just two of the ideas which will be soon be transferred onto huge billboards across the town.

This is just the start of a process which could see the existing Latin motto of Out of Earth Cometh Light permanently replaced with a modern version.

Spanish artist Jaume Plensa has already been commissioned to create an iconic piece of public art set to become Merseyside’s answer to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.

The project has a working title of Ex Terra Lucem (Out of the Earth Comes Light) and will be built on the former Sutton Manor site overlooking the M62. Ex-miner Alan Roby, 50, who worked at the colliery for 18 years, has been helping two leading artists with the project over the past five months.

Mr Roby said: “I come from a mining family, my parents and brothers worked there. But I enjoyed it and after the pit closed in 1993, I and other miners formed a heritage group so the history and importance of the site was never forgotten.

“There’s not much left there now apart from the gate, but we need to move with the times and make the site accessible to the young and old.

“It’s been a rollercoaster but we’ve told people about mining life and the history of Sutton Manor then it was up to them to come up with the ideas.”

Mr Roby and artist Alan Dunn and writer Jeff Young visited hundreds of people to encourage them to get involved.

Alan Dunn said: “I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

“The Big Art Project is a positive thing for St Helens and its great to have the knowledge and backing from the ex-miners themselves.”

Following an exhibition at the Godfrey Pilkington Gallery in St Helens town centre which opens today, the mottos will be transferred to the billboards.

After the ideas have been on the billboards for two weeks in April, they will be transferred into 20,000 booklets which will be delivered to every home in the borough.

There is also the possibility one motto will be chosen to become “concrete” and placed somewhere in St Helens.

St Helens is one of seven sites across the UK chosen by judges and the public to be part of Channel Four’s Big Art Project.

The town will now work to create the public art commission at Sutton Manor.

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