This is Harpenden: faces of town's residents feature in new exhibition

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird. - Credit: Penny Bird

Portraits of Harpenden's diverse community will feature in the first in a series of art installations at the town's new culture venue.

A new arts hub at the Eric Morecambe Centre (EMC) aims to showcase the area's talent by displaying their works to the public.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird. - Credit: Penny Bird

The initiative will be kicked off by long-standing local photographer Penny Bird, who has worked with Harpenden residents since 2016 to create photographic works representing the unique qualities of the township called To Harpenden With Love.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird. - Credit: Penny Bird

EMC manager Jo Ditch explained: “Her 2020/21 project involved creating 18 portraits of a diverse range of Harpenden characters ranging in age from three to 94.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird. - Credit: Penny Bird

"She has interviewed each person and prepared a brief personal perspective of their characters. A great opportunity to get to know a little more about some of the people around us.”

Rosemary Ross, from the Harpenden Local History Society, which will open Harpenden Museum on the ground floor of the EMC in the summer of 2022, said: “Penny’s project is of great interest as an example of ‘living history’ and will contribute to our collection for the future. I’m looking forward to seeing her portraits and reading about her subjects.”

Penny said she is grateful for the opportunity to share her subjects and their stories with the community: "These annual projects are done alongside my paid work to give me an opportunity to flex my creativity and, more importantly, to give back to the local public who support my business.

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“Everyone I approached to participate in, or support the initiative, has been wonderful. A big thank you to the people of Harpenden, particularly Ken Whittaker of Whittaker & Co, for supporting the exhibition.

Sarah Sharp A&K Wilson Picture Framers who framed the portrait of Joan Bartholomew

Sarah Sharp of A&K Wilson Picture Framers who framed the portrait of Joan Bartholomew. - Credit: Penny Bird

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird.

An image from To Harpenden With Love by photographer Penny Bird. - Credit: Penny Bird

"[Eric Morecambe's widow] Joan Bartholomew is featured and I am proud that her portrait will hang next to [his] portrait in the entrance of the venue."

Visitors to the centre are welcome to browse the portraits between now and the end of April 2022.

A reception hosted by Penny Bird - entitled To Harpenden With Love - will be held on Saturday March 5 at 8pm. Booking opens on the EMC website from February 1.

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