Spotlight on Samson

As part of our work producing a new play on the life of Harrogate's Samson Fox, we commissioned Harrogate artist Christian Bailey to design the theatre poster. The result is…

As part of our work producing a new play on the life of Harrogate’s Samson Fox, we commissioned Harrogate artist Christian Bailey to design the theatre poster. The result is just stunning. The release below was picked up by the local press, the Harrogate Advertiser, as well as in the Yorkshire Post.

We’ve been a long-term collaborator with Christian, and he’s always a joy to work with! Read the full story below…

Harrogate Artist Stuns with Samson Creation

An award-winning Harrogate artist has created a unique artwork to celebrate a new play, The Man Who Captured Sunlight, on the life of Samson Fox.

The once mayor of Harrogate, Fox was one of the most famous and successful men of his day, who helped spearhead the Industrial Revolution.

Samson FoxHe invented Fox Water-Gas, an early form of street lighting that saw Harrogate’s James and Parliament streets the first in the world to be lit by the invention. Newspapers at the time wrote how people flocked from far and wide to witness how the mayor of Harrogate had “bottled the sun”.

Samson’s life is a true ‘rags to riches’ story, as he was born into poverty in Bradford and worked in the mills from the age of nine. His inventions were of global import, and brought about safter travel for steam ships and revolutionized the US railroads.

Artist Christian Alexander Bailey, who lives in Harrogate, specialises in ink. The original artwork of The Man Who Captured Sunlight is finished with 24K gold leaf and gold ink.

Christian said: “The piece puts Samson Fox front and centre, much as he was during his lifetime, surrounded by bellows of steam and smoke to reflect his accomplishments in the Leeds Forge during the Industrial Revolution. Buildings which he funded are either side of him and his celebrated invention the corrugated boiler flue. Above all this an Atlas showing how his innovations spanned the globe, flanked either side by the foxes that adorn his coat of arms.”

Christian was commissioned by the play’s producers, the Harrogate creative and ethical agency, Cause UK, to create the artwork.

Cause UK, who won Best Independent Business at this year’s Harrogate Advertiser’s Excellence in Business Awards, has worked with the artist on previous events.

Clair, director of Cause UK, said: “At Cause UK, we’ve always used Christian for his excellent graphic design skills, and this is the second time he’s created original artwork for our events. What he’s created for our Samson Fox play is just spectacular. It has a real wow-factor; everyone who has seen it says how incredible it is.”

Christian previously created a pen and ink rendition called Tree Sparrow for a pop-up exhibition in the Royal Hall to complement the nature talks Cause UK hosted with Steve Backshall and Chris Packham in 2019. Tree Sparrow went on to win the Purchase Prize at the New Light Exhibition.

The Man Who Captured Sunlight artwork is used on posters to promote the play, which has a matinee and evening performance on Friday 23 September at the Royal Hall.

The play has been cast by the North of Watford acting agency. Joe Standerline, who plays Samson, has appeared in TV shows such as Victoria, The Full Monty and Safe.

A philanthropist, Samson donated funds to build the Royal College of Music in London and was instrumental in the creation of Harrogate’s Royal Hall.

Christian added: “It was said that Fox ‘captured the sunlight for Harrogate’, when he completed some of the first ever street lighting in the whole country for the town. The golden ball which he holds, shows Fox has indeed captured sunlight and is offering it as a gift. Not only does it represent the huge fortune he made, but also his generosity. He became a great benefactor to the local community, providing Harrogate with its first steam fire engine and affordable social housing.”

The Royal Hall has its own dedicated Samson Fox box, and the Fox coat of arms in the ceiling. It shows his invention – the corrugated boiler-flue – between two foxes, with the motto: To the brave, nothing is difficult.

The Man Who Captured Sunlight, Friday September 23 (2.30pm and 7pm), at Harrogate’s Royal Hall. Tickets £25 + box office fees.


Notes to Editors

For more about Christian Alexander Bailey, go to:

For photos of Freddie Fox, Samson Fox, artwork for the play and cast members: