Mural on historic building allowed to stay despite painter forgetting to apply for listed building consent

A drone shot of a massive mural on the side of a building showing a woman holding a lamb
The mural has been described as "wonderful" and its painter hopes it can inspire similar projects in Preston and the UK as a whole (Image credit: @scrappynw)

A city council has ruled that a huge mural painted on a listed building will be allowed to remain after the artwork proved popular with residents and visitors.

The 14m by 8m piece titled ‘Mother’ was painted on the side of Grade II-listed Hogarths gin bar in Preston, Lancashire, in July, a former working men’s club, but its painter didn't initially gain listed building consent to do this.

It was created by Preston artist, Shawn Sharpe, an artist who does commissions for pubs, clubs, and other venues across the UK and hopes the mural can inspire others to do similar pieces.

What does the giant mural show?

Mother shows a young tattooed woman holding a lamb, with Preston’s flag draped around her. It is one of many the artist has undertaken in his home city.

Sharpe told Blog Preston: “I really wanted my first public mural in Preston to be for the people that live here, not just another portfolio piece. I decided to play on Preston’s crest, using a strong young motherly figure as the main focal piece.

“She is watching over the city while protecting her lamb. The PP can mean Prince of Peace or Proud Preston, I suppose it depends on your walk of life.

“I hope everyone can appreciate the mural and I hope they get a sense of pride when they view it or share it with their friends. The face of Preston is changing rapidly and we need to start putting our stamp on the city.”

Many councils are now encouraging painting a wall with murals to draw in tourists.

Positive reaction towards the 'wonderful mural'

Reaction to the mural has been almost universally positive, particularly on social media, with over 3,100 likes on the Preston Past and Present page on Facebook. 

A moderator commented: “Well done Shawn Sharpe, this is officially the most popular post we've ever had on the group, and nice to see so much positivity!”

One resident, Hollie Newton, commented: “We saw this the other day and said how amazing it was!! We definitely need some more across the city - maybe to do with Preston’s history.”

Christine Brindle added: “I was only looking at this an hour ago whilst waiting for my bus. Wonderful mural, exquisite detail. Lovely to see.”

A view from a drone over a church of the painting of a woman holding a lamb on the side of a tall building

The painting has been welcomed by locals and received praise online having over 3,100 likes on Facebook (Image credit: @scrappynw)

Why was the artwork allowed to stay?

An oversight by the owners meant an application for listed building consent had not been submitted before the mural was painted on the historic building, but the council ruled it did not harm the building and approved retrospective listed-building consent, partially because it could be removed without damaging the building if necessary.

The officer's report explained why the mural on the 1890s building had been granted consent as the mural was of "high quality", did not "detract from the heritage asset work," and was "a positive addition and an asset to Preston".

A Preston City Council spokesperson said: “The approval of this application demonstrates that the Council is generally supportive of such artwork, but care needs to be taken on sensitive buildings of heritage value. In fact, the Council has previously commissioned two murals in the city centre using Towns Fund grants and is keen to support local artists and encourage creativity and culture in Preston.”

Mr Sharpe, who has recently completed another mural on side of the Northern Way pub in Preston, said he had "exciting conversations" with the council, who were "happy to back the mural culture in Preston".

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.