Liam’s project, Heart of Darwen, drives idea generation and community discussion regarding the future of Darwen’s market.
Why did you enter the Creative Conscience Awards?
I’d been working on my project, Heart of Darwen, as part of my degree but I wanted to see how it measured up in a broader context. Although the project has a specific, local focus, I felt it was important to consider its place within a wider society and look at the potential to replicate the work elsewhere.
What was the impact of winning the award?
Initially I was very surprised. It was unexpected because I’d been judged in the Architecture, Engineering & Interior Design discipline, so I assumed I’d be up against projects that would fit more naturally under that heading. But when the news eventually sunk in it helped me to build confidence in the project and added to the momentum of the work. The demolition of Darwen market, and the lack of engagement with the local community, has since been raised at Prime Minister’s Questions. I think it is significant that the judges and others see the social importance of markets in the same way that I do, and by continuing the project, I hope to further encourage the the council and local people in Darwen to reinvent the market into a space that will make sense in a modern day context, and will thrive for years to come.
What motivates you?
Growing up in Darwen I saw a transition of opinion about young people through the changes which took place at my school, turning it from one of the worst in the area into an Academy that promoted entrepreneurship with the support of the Aldridge Foundation. I experienced first-hand that change can happen in a deprived area, and that confidence can be built. When I went home from university at Christmas and saw the market unsuccessfully trying to carry on as it always had and with morale at an all-time low, I wanted to revive the positivity I had experienced at school and find out how I could help to support the future of the community.
I recently did an internship with Wayne Hemmingway, and his ethos of making good design accessible to everyday people really resonates with me, and I hope to push with this ethos in mind throughout my work in the future. Not only do I want to do good design, I want to show everyday people how to make good design – and therefore involving the end-audience throughout the process of any project is really important, and that’s what I have tried to do with the Heart of Darwen.
Would you recommend entering the award to others?
Definitely. It’s great to get the recognition, but also the ongoing support and mentoring from those involved has been really good. I feel part of the network now and have made some great contacts.