Salford Lads Club has commissioned artist Alena Ruth Donely to create a textile panel to mark the city’s Shelagh Delaney Day, which takes place on November 25. The artwork, which is almost two metres wide, will be temporarily installed over the iconic building’s famous redbrick exterior entrance, directly under the original Coronation Street sign.
Leslie Holmes, Salford Lads Club’s Project Manager, who commissioned the work, said: “Shelagh Delaney is the city’s most important cultural figure. Her work ‘A Taste of Honey’- written in 1959 when she was nineteen- paved the way for film and TV to bring Salford’s working-class story to a worldwide audience.”
The following year in 1960, Granada TV’s Coronation Street was created and, twenty-five years later, Stephen Wright’s famous photograph of The Smiths also paid homage to Shelagh Delaney by including the Coronation Street sign in the background.
Salford Lads Club, which is also now a popular wedding venue, faces out on three sides with its famous sign in the centre, and two blank niches on Coronation Street and St Ignatius Walk (formerly Oxford Street). In January this year one of the blank niches was used for the first time to show solidarity with Ukraine by using the yellow and blue of the flag as a photo image on its social media platforms. The idea was also a reference to the unused fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square where artists have been commissioned to fill this temporarily over the last twenty years.
Alena’s artwork uses the words ‘Salford Lass’ and references another piece of Salford’s cultural story through colours inspired by The Happy Mondays’ artwork by Central Station Design. The vibrant ‘Salford Lass’ panel will be temporarily installed and photographed, and then taken down and displayed in the club along with photographs showing Alena’s creative process. Alena is donating the artwork honouring Shelagh Delaney to the club and proceeds from the project will go towards Salford Girls Club activities.
While the building and its history is recognised as Salford Lads Club, as a registered charity it is called Salford Lads and Girls Club. The Barracks Estate in Ordsall, Salford originally had a large girls’ institute building down the street from Salford Lads Club, but it was hit by bombing in 1941 and destroyed.
Salford Girls Club started in 1994 and is supported by Salford Youth Service. The club’s aim with Alena’s artwork is to inspire the next generation of girls and young women to look again at the legacy of Shelagh Delaney and her importance to this city.