Blackburn Open Walls Festival Returns for 2018 with a series of new murals

The Blackburn Open Walls festival once again brought street art to this northern town.  Now in it’s third year, the event aims to ‘Make Blackburn Beautiful’ by transforming it’s urban space. This year artists such as Case Maclain, Curtis Hylton, Phlegm, AddFuel, Mr Christa and Isaac Cordal all joined in the fun.

Joining the likes of festival regulars Hayley Welsh and Alexandra Gallagher they painted a series of murals around the area, adding to the art from previous years.

Case Maclain Blackburn Open Walls
Mural from Case Maclain painted during the 2018 Blackburn Open Walls festival


Only managing to visit the town a little after the event, we were able to meet up with Alexandra Gallagher. A local artist, her work has appeared at all three open walls festivals so far. Her first outings being a series of giant digital collages which is the type of art which she has perhaps become best known for.

Her most recent outing however was the most ambitious. Trying her hand at painting on the actual street for the first time. The resultant creation took over a week to complete. It was another first for an artist who told us that she thrived on challenge.

Alexandra Gallagher Blackburn Open Walls (2)
Detail from Alexandra Gallagher’s mural at the Blackburn Open Walls. She has created pieces for all three events so far

We spent some time wandering around the town to look at the new additions. It became clear just how much they seem to be appreciated. None have been tagged or damaged. A testament perhaps to the curation of the walls and the placing of the pieces. None seem out of place against the backdrop of the town filled with old Victorian architecture.


A local vote after the event picked out the mural from Phlegm as being the town favourite. A homage to the cotton workers of years gone by, his mural shows one of his fantastical creatures sitting at a loom. There, black and white, against the background of an aging red brick building it’s an arresting sight.

Phlegm Blackburn Open Walls
Sheffield based artist Phlegm is well known for his black and white illustrative style. This mural can be found on an old building at the top of Northgate

Around the corner, Hayley Welsh the curator of the festival and a Blackburn artist, has painted some of her own little creatures. Representing the inner thoughts that we might have in our head. They are shown sat in a boat which is being lifted to the sky by three black balloons. Next to the piece are the words “Be Happy in the Moment” and then “This Moment is your Life”.

There are others of course. A giant duck from Curtis Hylton has already become a local landmark. The mural from Case MacLain meanwhile pays tribute to the museum on which it has been painted. Showing a man in a lab coat staring intently at the small skull of a bird. It is perhaps an unusual topic but one which pays tribute to the research past of the museum.

Hayley Welsh Blackburn Open Walls
‘This Moment is your Life’ the latest mural from Hayley Welsh in Blackburn. This overlooks a car park on Duke Street

There have been a number of murals added to the walls of Blackburn. So for this post we thought we’d feature the latest additions. We didn’t find them all but we did get most of them.

Click on the links to look at work from previous years here and for an interview with Hayley Welsh, the curator of the event. The Blackburn Open Walls festival took place between 17-22 July 2018. The town was visited on 4 August 2018. 


Make Blackburn Beautiful
‘Make Blackburn Beautiful’
Mr Christa Blackburn Open Walls
‘Believe’ mural from Mr. Christa
Isaac Cordal Blackburn Open Walls
A hidden little sculpture from Isaac Cordal, hidden on Lord West Street.
Curtis Hylton Duck Blackburn Open Walls
A giant duck from Curtis Hylton on the side of Bar Ibiza on Mincing Lane
Case Maclain Blackburn Open Walls 2
A mural from Case Maclain on the back of the museum on Richmond Terrace
Boo Hoo Up North Blackburn Open Walls
A mural remembering ‘connect 4’ from Boo Who Up North on Lord Street West
Alexandra Gallagher Blackburn Open Walls
The full wall by Alexandra Gallagher on Barton Street, sadly with a few cars in front.
AddFuel Blackburn Open Walls
The mural from Add Fuel on the side of Bar Ibiza on Mincing Lane
Emma Colbert Blackburn Open Walls
Mural from Emma Colbert on hoardings on Richmond Terrace
Hinterland Blackburn Open Walls
Mural from Mr Tea One on hoardings on Richmond Terrace
Jay Sharples Blackburn Open Walls
colourful monkeys from Jay Sharples on hoardings on Richmond Terrace
Taylor Rianne Blackburn Open Walls
Lovely paste up from photographer Taylor Rianne on Richmond Terrace
Curtis Hylton Blackburn Open Walls
A quick throw up from Curtis Hylton opposite the Prism Gallery on Lord Street West
Curtis Hylton Crane 3 Blackburn
A hidden little piece from Curtis Hylton by the storm drain near the Blackburn Youth Centre