Dream at St Helens

Polly Checkland Harding
Dream at St Helen's

Located at St Helens, half way between Manchester and Liverpool, Dream is a 20m high outdoor sculpture on the former site of the Sutton Manor Colliery. Sitting on foundations almost double this in depth, the sculpture is of a nine year-old girl’s head, her eyes closed as though dreaming. At approximately 50 times life size, the sculpture took 6,160 hours of work to construct, at a cost of £1.88m; it sits on a commanding position overlooking the Cheshire and Lancashire plains, with views of Snowdonia, the Pennines and the Peak District from the top of the hill it sits on.

Dream has a fascinating history: the monument was designed by world-renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa in collaboration with a collection of ex-miners. The St Helens residents felt that, after the pits closed, they had almost nothing to show for centuries of mining work in the area. They wanted the commission to reflect this heritage, but Plensa’s initial design – a giant replica of a miner’s lamp – was felt to be too literal. Understanding that ‘the piece must touch something in the memory of the society in that area’, Plensa returned with a design that referenced the St Helens’ history, but which reflected the community’s aspirations.

The new design originally saw a column of light radiating directly above the head into the ether, Plensa’s new pitch: ‘even if we are small, our dreams could reach the sky.’ The final sculpture was without this beam of light, out of concern for the passing traffic, but the symbolism remained the same: Dream was constructed from 90 precast panels of English concrete mixed with Spanish dolomite marble, the white, almost luminous surface a hopeful contrast to the colour of the coal below. Unanimously granted planning permission by the council, construction was completed in April 2009, and the sculpture, with its facial contours appearing to shift with the weather, has been seen by millions.

Sutton Manor Colliery Site, Sutton Woodland, Jubits LaneSt.HelensWA9 4BB View map
Telephone: 01744755150 Visit Now

What's on near Dream at St Helens

An image captured from overhead of two men embracing. One is seated, and the other is kneeling.
Until
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On the other side at FACT

‘On the other side’ at FACT presents the work of three artists, thoroughly examining themes of authority, power and control.

free entry
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ActivityLiverpool
Old Dock Tours, Liverpool

The Old Dock tour is a treat for younger and older visitors alike, fans of Liverpool’s maritime past, and anybody curious about local history.

£8.50 with concessions

Where to go near Dream at St Helens

Alexandra Park, St. Helens

The 1960’s, grade II listed Alexandra Park is the former home of Pilkingtons Glass Head Quarters in St. Helens. 

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Shakespeare North Playhouse

Due to open in 2022, Shakespeare North Playhouse is a new theatre, education, outdoor performance garden and exhibition space in Merseyside.

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Knowsley Hall

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Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

Opened in 1857, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums in the country and much of the quintessential character of the building has been preserved.

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Culture Warrington hosts a range of exhibitions throughout the year representing local, regional and national artists’ work.

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Speke Hall

Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool. A wonderful place to visit for all ages.

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