clarion sunday – 19 september 2021

Last Sunday I was commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts to make a series of portraits of Clarion cyclists as they converged on the last Clarion House just north of Nelson in Lancashire. The weather held fair and it was a privilege to photograph over 90 cyclists who celebrated Clarion Sunday. Many of these riders have contributed data of their journeys. In some instances they also photographed or filmed their rides for me to look at and consider for the limited edition bookwork I am now making. All participants will be included and many contributed their thoughts on the importance of the Clarion’s cultural heritage. This commission is part of Pendle Radicals, a wider look at radical thinkers and activists who have shaped not only the local landscape but the nation. I was also commissioned to mark these people and their importance with a series of stone etched panels. The Clarion panel is at the bottom of these images from the day.

As a devotee of cycling culture and fashion, I designed a special musette for each cyclist, with the declaration #I_Am_Clarion emblazoned on it – filled with Clarion and Pendle Radicals goodies. Now I will begin to reflect on the day, process the portraits and produce a lasting document celebrating the Clarion cycling movement and its Socialist roots – to be added to the musette! As the beautiful banner says ‘Fellowship is Life’, ‘Socialism the Hope of the World’.


pendle radicals and songs of praise

My #I_Am_Clarion commission comes under the umbrella project ‘Pendle Radicals’ by Mid Pennine Arts, check out the beautiful etched stone panels I created for the wider project which feature in this episode of Songs of Praise.

The panels were etched for us by Scribblestone near Halifax, who worked on my previous Cambridge Rules 1848 commission. Using a warm local stone to reflect the environment they are set in, they mark key locations that are touched by Radical Thinkers from Pendle’s past.

I believe I get a small walk on part, but haven’t seen the rushes so can’t confirm this!

Pendle Radicals will be airing on Sunday 12th Sept at 1.45pm on BBC One and will be available to watch online afterwards @

Updated clip link:


cambridge rules 1848, book laser dummy, spine detail

We are reaching the point in the project where the final stone will be installed in Egypt and the book can be printed and published. There will be more images and announcements about this shortly.

This image shows the extent of the publication, 800pp in 32pp sections. It will be exposed bound, so I’ve been experimenting with adding details to the sections that can be read once bound. It will be a miniature scale version of the sculpture with a sleeve. Here, the sections have been squeezed between two pieces of sample stone for the sculpture.


clarion sunday

Clarion Sunday 2021
Sunday 13 June
The Fellowship of the Wheel (working title)
An artist’s project by Alan Ward to celebrate this unique and historic event.

We are looking forward to seeing you next year, it is disappointing that Clarion Sunday hasn’t been able to happen this year, as I’d been looking forward to working alongside MPA, to create an artist engagement with your cycling community. By way of a small homage to the rides you would have made, I have created a little lockdown virtual ride to Clarion House from my home in South Manchester.

Just prior to the shutdown, I’d purchased a gravel bike to begin to explore a little more off tarmac. My ride encompasses some of those surfaces, as I make my way through Greater Manchester. The film was made using a mapmyride plotted route, which was imported into the wonders of the Google Earth app. It’s a little bit of fun and references the fly-throughs of TDF stage previews and dreaded spin classes.

For Clarion Sunday 2021, we want to make your day a bit more special, and offer you something to remember it by.

I am an artist, photographer and designer, but also a devotee of cycling culture. I would like to document your club rides to Clarion House next year, using the data provided by tools like Strava and Garmin, and include photographs and notes from the journey to Jinny Lane. Between now and then I will be seeking your help with planning this. On Clarion Sunday 2021, I will be present to take a formal portrait of each rider with their mount, using a pop-up studio, and MPA will thank participants with a small one-off memento of Clarion Sunday to take away. Afterwards, I will assemble and interpret all the material gathered into a limited edition publication, and each participant will be sent a copy, with MPA’s compliments.

If you are interested in taking part you can contact me by email 

Clarion Sunday is already a very special event. Through this project, we want to capture some of that, and give your members something unique to remember it by. We hope you will be willing to help, because we can’t do it without your participation. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you next year!


MPA is an arts and culture charity working in Pennine Lancashire. Our project Pendle Radicals is a part of a programme to celebrate the Pendle Hill area. Pendle Radicals explores the stories of the nonconformists, dissenters, independent thinkers and change makers who have been drawn to this rugged, rural landscape over the centuries.  From the founder of the Quakers, who had his vision at the Pendle summit, to campaigners for women’s suffrage and the pioneers of the Labour movement.

Clarion House is a central point for many of those stories, and a special place for Pendle Radicals.  One extraordinary tale is the 125+ year narrative of the Clarion movement and the National Clarion Cycling Club. What we want to do, though, is capture a snapshot of today’s living tradition of Clarion Cycling, your club, your members, and their ride on 13 June 2021.

Pendle Radicals is a part of the Pendle Hill Landscape partnership programme, made possible by support from National Lottery Heritage Fund.

See also:


news update in the time of covid-19

Inevitably, things are being cancelled and delayed.

I should have been completing a commission with Mid Pennine Arts to create a celebratory engagement with the National Clarion Cycling Club on Sunday 14 June. 

This will now take place in 2021 on Sunday 13 June.

The working title for this commission is ‘The Fellowship of the Wheel’, and I will explore the journeys and landscapes of rides to the last Clarion House at Roughlee, Lancashire.

Clarion Cycling Clubs from across the North and North-West regions will converge at Roughlee, recording data from their rides for me.

On the day I’ll be using a pop-up photographic studio to complete a series of formal portraits of riders and their bikes. Along with the data, stories and incidental photographs gathered from each club, I will then create a limited edition artist publication of the living tradition of Clarion Cycling for each participant.

“The beauties of the countryside could be enjoyed by mere possession of the magic wheel …
Hence, Socialist Cycling Clubs, the product of fellowship and mutual help, sprang into existence all over the country.”

Tom Tyas, Handforth Clarion (pre-First World War quote)

Mid Pennine Arts is an arts and culture charity working in Pennine Lancashire. This commission is funded by Pendle Radicals, part of a programme to celebrate the Pendle Hill area. Pendle Radicals explores the stories of the nonconformists, dissenters, independent thinkers and change makers who have been drawn to this rugged, rural landscape over the centuries.

Image: self-portrait from ‘Grimpeur’ a previous cycling project.

I was also due to speak at the ARA National Conference about Photographs from Another Place, however The Archives and Records Association have postponed their conference until 2021 (date to be confirmed).

I was going to be presenting a paper with my daughter, Bethan, on our approach to research and how we went about initially interpreting the Gearing photographic archive, which then informed my work.

Image: From pop-up studio that featured in ‘Place’, Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, December 2019.
Place was the engagement strand of Photographs from Another Place.