Huddersfield’s town centre lions – there are at least 150 of them – are to be celebrated with a special art project.
And to launch the project local people are being offered the chance to make lion masks in craft workshops held in the Piazza.
Architectural historian Chris Marsden has teamed up with Laura Mateescu, a research student and photographer from the University of Huddersfield, to stage the sessions.
The workshops are a key part of The Joy of a Roar, a community arts project commission from the Historic England Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone.
The two-and-a-half hour bookable workshops are free and everybody aged 12 and over are welcome. Under 18s need to be accompanied by an adult. All materials and tools will be provided and all people have to bring is their own imagination!
Laura said: “We are making masks to be worn during a photo shoot in a local studio. Local people with lion masks will be photographed in sport, dance or play.
“These ’lion’ portraits will be exhibited larger than life on Huddersfield town centre streets. We hope many of the masks will go on display in the windows of shops and businesses too.”
Chris and Laura appreciate how the lion is a well-known symbol of Huddersfield’s heritage, which also represents agility, strength, fierceness, courage, leadership and community pride.
Huddersfield most recognised statue of a lion sits atop Lion Chambers opposite St George’s Square. That 11ft long fibreglass statue replaced an original concrete and iron lion erected in 1853, which after more than 120 years, was starting to crumble.
There are many more lions that are less obvious. They are above doorways, on window ledges and can be spotted in the facades of older stone buildings.
Chris said: “This commissioned project will generate massive portraits promoting sports and wellbeing by engaging local people.
“We want them to consider Huddersfield’s history through lion mask-making workshops. There are over 150 sculpted lions in the town centre.”
Laura added: “Symbolically, the lion highlights Huddersfield’s diversity and will engage local people by building connections between the town, its history and town-centre users, promoting fun and community-making.”
‘The Joy of a Roar’ mask-making workshops are running at 42 Princess Alexandra Walk (the old Poundworld shop) on Tuesday February 15 at 3pm, Sunday February 20 at 1pm, Thursday February 24 (now fully booked) and Saturday February 26 at 10am and 1.30pm.
In addition to The Joy of a Roar workshops children and families are invited to make their own lion masks and contribute to the window displays at Maker World at 33/34 Princess Alexandra Walk in the Piazza Centre on Saturday March 12 and Saturday March 19 at 11am-3pm. These sessions are drop in and free – no need to book.