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Staff Collection Picks

Our new monthly collection spotlight series will feature a favourite Harris object for each Harris staff member. Discover our stories below!

Exploring Staff Collection Picks

Starkey’s photograph shows a woman sat at a table with her hand resting on her head looking outside the window at roadside cafe

Untitled, 1998

Artist: Hannah Starkey

Staff member Alan has chosen this photograph by Hannah Starkey as his favourite collection item.

Alan said ‘I love the way Starkey presents little moments of ordinary life in a beautiful and mysterious way.  Her photographs usually show women in everyday settings and many of them could be images from films. They allow the viewer to make up stories about what might be going on.  In this image, of a roadside café, the viewer could imagine what the woman is doing, where is she, where is she going, is she waiting for someone or has someone just left?’

Image of a Wind-Swept Shore

A Wind-Swept Shore

Made: (1863–1948)

Artist: Arthur Meade

Staff member Dawn has chosen this painting ‘A Wind-Swept Shore’ as her favourite collection item by Arthur Meade.

Dawn said ‘I find it hard to pick a single favourite thing in The Harris collections, but this painting is one of them. It is a view across the beach at Hayle, near St Ives in Cornwall. I have great memories of holidays in the area. What I love most is the ribbon of water that snakes across the beach, reflecting the light and colours from the sky, and the highlights as the sun hits the clouds and landscape in the background.’

Image of a fiery sunrise over water

July Sunrise, Orwell Estuary, No.2

Made: 1945

Artist: Maggi Hambling

Staff member Amelia has chosen this painting ‘July Sunrise, Orwell Estuary, No.2’ as her favourite collection item by Maggi Hambling.

Amelia said ‘I have been looking at this piece a lot recently through the lens of wellbeing. The sunrise, to me, symbolises new and exciting beginnings. I just absolutely love the bright colours in this work and find it very captivating. I like a large piece of art that I can get lost in, and this piece is 160 x 122 cm. I haven’t seen this piece of art in-person yet, but I can’t wait to be able to stand in front of it and feel that warm glow of the sun!’

Image of a cream dress on a mannequin with matching bolero

Mary Quant Cream Dress

Made: 1960's

Artist: Mary Quant

Harris Curator Scott’s favourite collection item is this dress with a matching cape from Mary Quant.

Scott said ‘I love it because Mary Quant really captured the spirit of the ‘youthquake’ of the 1960s with her designs. Even today, 60 years after it was made, it still looks and feels fresh and exciting.

I also love it because it was worn by a curator who worked in the Harris in the 1970s – Gillian Tressider. After she left the Harris, she donated this and other items from her wardrobe to the Museum. I would love to one day donate some of my clothes to the Harris and have them talked about and put on show 60 years later!’

Image of a tall clock tower

Friendship Scroll Holder, 1952

Made: 1952

Harris History Curator James’ favourite collection item is the model Friendship Scroll Holder from 1952.

This is made from the wood from Preston’s Victorian town hall which was badly damaged by fire in 1947 and later demolished. It is in the shape of the magnificent clock tower that we have sadly lost from Preston’s skyline today.

Each Guild, Preston Rotary Clubs and UCLan use their international links to send the friendship scrolls around the world for people to send their good wishes to Preston.

Image of a lady reading by candlelight.

Serena Reading

Date: 1734-1802

Artist: George Romney

Harris staff member Janet’s favourite collection item is the painting ‘Serena Reading’ by George Romney.

Romney was a native of North West England. He was born in Dalton-in-Furness in 1734 and began his painting career in Kendal. In the early 1760s, he moved to London and became famous for painting wealthy and powerful members of British society. He eventually returned to the north and died in 1802.

Janet said ‘I like this painting for several reasons. It is a beautiful portrait and I love that it is of a reader, and a woman reader at that, who is so engrossed in a book that she has read through the night; behind her dawn is just breaking. To me, it is a reflection of the Age of Enlightenment, the pursuit of knowledge and of social, political and scientific change.’

Tea for Two’ tea set painted with Gibraltar seascape. This collection includes plates, cup, saucers, jugs and a teapot and is bright and colourful in shades of blue, green, yellow, pink and red.

Shakil’s Staff Pick

Harris staff member Shakil’s favourite collection item is the ‘Tea for Two’ tea set painted with Gibraltar seascape, made in Staffordshire in 1932 by artist Clarice Cliff.

In Shakil’s own words: “the reason this is my favourite collection is its beauty (or should that be beau-tea). It radiates postivi-tea! You don’t have to be art-tea to appreciate how beautiful this tea-riffic tea set is”. 

Charcoal and chalk drawing of 'Head of Julia III' shows a female figure on a black background

Kyra’s Staff Pick

Harris staff member Kyra’s favourite collection item is the ‘Head of Julia III By Frank Auerbach’ made in 1985. 

Auerbach’s work deliberately subverts the traditional idea of portraiture. He resists giving an exact likeness of the sitter- his wife Julia. Instead, her prominent cheekbones and hairstyle are expressed through broad strokes of charcoal and chalk.

Kyra said “I absolutely love this drawing! It captures life so well. I think Julia (his wife) is a very lucky person to have been drawn in such a dynamic way. A drawing like this surely must never be finished ever”. This particular collection item has inspired Kyra to create some of her own drawings!

Purchased with support from the Art Fund in 1987. © Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Gallery, New York and London.

Image of the Doll House behind glass in the Harris' Discover Preston Museum

Rita’s Staff Pick

Harris staff member Rita chose ‘The Pedder Doll House’ as her staff pick. Featured in the Harris’ ‘Discover Preston’ Gallery – as it reminded her of fond memories visiting the Harris during her childhood where she dreamt she could have gone behind the glass and played with the doll house herself.

Margret Pedder was the first lucky child to have played with this doll house in the 1820s. This would have been the centre piece of a nursery inside her family home. Her grandfather, Edward Pedder was the co-founder of Preston first bank in 1776 and her other grandfather Richard Newsham, was a solicitor and an art collector, whose collection became the foundation of the Harris fine art collection.

The doll house style reflects a wealthy family house like the one this family would have owned. Interestingly, the doll house was passed down to the female members of Marget’s family with Elizabeth Ann Wilson as the last person to play with the doll house.

Image fo a green decorative scent bottle with ornate silver detailing.

Joanne’s Staff Pick

Harris staff member Joanne’s favourite collection items are the scent bottles, particularly the intricate green floral glassware pictured. In her own words, Joanne mentioned ‘the scent bottles are all lovely and I’m looking forward to seeing their return when we reopen in 2024 as it’s always nice to have a browse of them. It’s green my favourite colour and not a common colour for scent bottles.’

All 2,748 scent bottles in the Harris collection were collected by one woman – Mrs French. Mrs French started her collection as a young girl in the 1890s – and what began as a childhood hobby developed into a lifetime’s passion.