The New Pavillion – A Walk Through Time

Art is said to tell one hundred thousand stories without saying a word. We are surrounded by the most beautiful art pieces in the world, on walls and alleyways unknown to us and by illustrations that retell forgotten stories of places and times gone by. Artists are those who with a brushstroke reenact time as it once was.

Ekaterina Sheath is a visual storyteller, and we at Dock Street Signs have collaborated with her community illustration project. We assisted by producing and installing Aluminium Composite Panels adorned with Ekaterina’s designs onto the windows of the New Pavilion.

The project was commissioned by Leeds City Council and Morley Town Council, as part of Morley Towns Fund, to revive The New Pavillion which has been a prominent building in Morley since 1911. 

Ekaterina Sheath – About The Artist

Ekaterina Sheath is a student of visual arts pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Illustration at the Leeds Arts University. She is a passionate art enthusiast who perceives illustration as a way to celebrate untold stories and as an instrument to preserve local spaces as cultural assets.

Ekaterina works with organisations and international clients to deliver engaging, relevant, colourful illustrations reflecting history and education.

The New Pavilion – A Brief History

The New Pavilion has been the heart of entertainment in Morley since 1911 with one of the earliest acts to grace the stage being Vulcana the Strongwoman and her partner Atlas. A feminist icon of her time, Vulcana championed exercise for women and lobbied against restrictive corsets. With just one hand, she could lift a man!

In 1938, 12-year-old Ernie Wise, later of comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, delighted Morley audiences with his tap dancing and jokes.

In the 1950s, the theatre became a cinema, full of youngsters and couples watching Roy Rogers movies. It was an era of smoking indoors, couples ‘courting’ in the back row, and cheeky children tucking into ice cream. On the way home, they enjoyed fish and chips as a special treat for tea.

The cinema transformed into First Star Bingo in 1968 and later Walker’s Bingo in 1984. The hall was alive with calls of “Two Little Ducks” and “Cup of Tea” for over 20 years.

In 1990 the building became the After Dark nightclub, which hosted world-famous Orbit techno nights. At its peak, Orbit was on a par with the Berlin scene and attracted star DJs and clubbers from across the country.

The New Pavilion’s final chapter was as an Italian restaurant that closed in 2009.

The Aim Behind the Design

The primary aim of Ekaterina was to bring out the untold history of the New Pavilion building and help the youth connect with it. Along with that, she tried to portray the unturned pages of nostalgia that surround the unused building.

Her colourful and quirky illustrations of a ripped cinema ticket, a couple in love at the cinema, a little child’s head peeping at Grandma’s bingo card are all snippets of stories and details shared by the community of Morley.

The abstract-shaped figures depict the stained-glass windows, ornate gates, and the sculpted facades of this epitome of entertainment and culture. However, the front entrance and the windows of the distant sides depict the present days’ Morley blending past and present together in colours.