coldlight creative ltd | April Ashley – Exhibition
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April Ashley – Exhibition

About This Project


Coldlight was engaged to create an engaging, accessible and visually striking space for the April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool. Responding to a joint brief from Homotopia and National Museums Liverpool, we were chosen to create the design and graphic elements of the exhibition, including wrapping a 14x4m wall, for the exhibition’s 15 month run.


At the beginning of every project, we sit down with the client to fully understand the purpose of the exhibition. We visited the space to visualise how the exhibition would fit into the wider culture of the building, giving us a sensitivity to and awareness of the space. After visiting the museum, we drew up an overview of the installation, alongside a 3D walkthrough of the space, that we used with the client to curate and design an engaging visitor experience. Paying close attention to NML’s strict accessibility guidelines, we worked creatively within the brief and budget, tweaking the virtual space to create the optimum environment for the exhibition, before moving on to produce detailed technical drawings and liaise with museum staff on the build.

The process took several months, working alongside Homotopia and NML to make sure that the content of the exhibition was clear, legible and slotted seamlessly into the the museum’s accessibility guidelines. Alongside the technical challenges of the space, we were determined to introduce a strong storytelling element, designing and creating a museum installation to tell a very human story, and bring April’s life to visitors in an engaging and accessible way.


The sheer scale of the exhibition space brought a number of technical challenges: we wrapped the largest (14x4m) wall horizontally to minimise seams, with a specially created 3m-wide vinyl wallpaper. Several walls received a similar ‘wrap’ treatment, while others required individual vinyl letters, split battened wall mounted panels, large foam blow ups of vintage newspapers and translucent vinyl window graphics, creating a number of varied zones.

The exhibition was opened by April Ashley herself and John Prescott MP in September 2013. Overall the exhibition set an attendance record of over 960,000 visitors.

Initially to run until September 2014 the exhibition was extended until April 2015.

“Coldlight Creative have delivered a striking graphic design scheme for the April Ashley: Portrait of a lady exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool. An appreciation of the range and complexity of the exhibition content, and a confident use of monochrome and contrasting colours, help to deliver the interpretation in an attractive and coherent way… the team were also able to respond to the specific requirements of National Museums Liverpool as Homotopia’s exhibition partner and host venue.”

Deputy Director of the Museum of Liverpool

“Coldlight met our brief for design and graphic production for the April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady exhibition perfectly. Their design work is beautiful and extremely high quality which has enhanced the exhibition and the accompanying literature. Their team were flexible and responsive to the project needs and to our vision and played a significant role in the efficient production management and installation of the project. We have worked with them for the past seven years and will continue to involve them in our future design and exhibition activities.”

Development Director, Homotopia.

Branding, Spaces