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The Guardian

The Howgill Guardian is an elaborate piece of contemporary craft made from honest, everyday materials. It also forms an intimate and personal portrait of a West Cumbrian town.

Created in 2012 as part of the West Cumbria Arts Engagement project. A collaboration between UHC Manchester and Janice Murray, Helen Morgan and Becky Moody (Howgill Arts). Howgill Arts designed the piece and created the interior. UHC fabricated the cabinet.

The specially designed English Oak cabinet which houses the Guardian is lined with dozens of internal wooden shelves, displaying more than a hundred individual curiosities and keepsakes, each telling a story. The doors of a magical cabinet open to reveal the sacred Guardian housed within: a commonly recognised, and yet beautifully realised pigeon.

Bedecked in metal and fibre feathers, the Guardian peers out, protecting the dreams and aspirations of a whole local community.

The piece exemplifies a collaborative approach to engaged practice that runs alongside the creation of a bespoke work of unique contemporary art.

“The most exquisite piece of art that I have ever seen resulting from a public engagement project.”

External Evaluator for the Local Authority and  Arts Council England.


Fumed English Oak, brass fittings and hinges, toughened glass, gold leaf, steel turntable, found and handmade objects from a range of materials. Danish oil and polish.


777mm x 470mm x 470mm

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