Salford Lads Club commissions artwork to honor playwright Shelagh Delaney
Salford Lads Club have commissioned an artist Alena Ruth to create a textile sign to mark the town’s Shelagh Delaney Day, which takes place on November 25. The artwork, which measures nearly two meters wide, will be temporarily installed over the iconic building’s famous red brick exterior entrance, directly below the original Coronation Street sign.
Leslie Holmes, project manager of the Salford Lads Club, who commissioned the work, said: “Shelagh Delaney is the most important cultural figure in the city. Her work ‘A Taste of Honey’ – written in 1959 when she was nineteen – paved the way for film and television to bring Salford’s working-class history to global audiences.
The following year, in 1960, Granada TV’s Coronation Street was premiered, and twenty-five years later Stephen Wright’s famous photograph of the Smiths also pays 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 on three sides with its famous sign in the center and two empty 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 also referenced the unused fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square where artists have been commissioned to fill it temporarily for the past twenty years.
Alena’s artwork uses the words “Salford Lass” and references another piece of Salford’s cultural history through colors inspired by The Happy Mondays artwork by Central Station Design. The dynamic ‘Salford Lass’ sign will be temporarily installed and photographed, then taken down and displayed around the club with photographs showing Alena’s creative process. Alena is donating the artwork honoring Shelagh Delaney to the club and the proceeds from the project will go towards Salford Girls Club activities.
While the building and its history are recognized as Salford Boys 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 across the street from the Salford Lads Club, but it was hit by bombing in 1941 and destroyed.
The Salford Girls Club started in 1994 and is supported by the Salford Youth Service. The club’s goal with Alena’s artwork is to inspire the next generation of girls and young women to revisit the legacy of Shelagh Delaney and her significance to this city.