Our ’Ouse

Posted by editor on May 24, 2010 under Art, sport and leisure

An exhibition of wallpaper? It’s another project from the prolific Gorton Visual Arts group. Len Grant visits Hope Mill in Ancoats to take a look.

“Have you done all this Grandma?” Two year-old Sophie Ledward, admires the handiwork of GVA member, Rita Oakley.

Our ’Ouse is inspired by the exposed wallpaper revealed in the once private interiors of half-demolished houses scattered around east Manchester. “It was the condemned terraced houses of Beswick that first gave me the idea,” says the group’s lead artist, Ian McKay. “Those exposed living rooms and bedrooms signify the area’s transformation and I thought it would be good way to record people’s memories of the past.”

Each member of the group has chosen images, or drawn their own pictures of treasured childhood memories. Family pets, long-demolished cinemas, gas lamps, cups cakes, clogs and even the pit heads at Bradford Colliery have all been featured in this day-long exhibition.

The accompanying text by each of the artists, all Gorton residents, offers another strand of reminiscence. Noreen West recalls, “…clogs that mother had bought with the Divi she had saved from the Co-op. They were green, that’s my favourite colour, and they laced up at the front.”

Margaret Greenhalgh remembers her father, an engineer, taking the whole family to visit the pit in 1941. “He made sure his four girls were aware of Manchester’s vast, diverse industry: something to be proud of.”

Elsewhere Freda Wallwork writes about her inspiration for her ‘vanilla slice’ wallpaper: “I worked at Sharples Brothers as an apprentice confectioner in the 1950s… We had a small kitchen for our lunch breaks, very like the one in the underwear factory in Coronation Street. We were a very happy, but busy, group of friends.”

As part of this 13-week project the group were invited by the Whitworth Art Gallery to view their current wallpaper exhibition and were able to ask questions of the gallery curators. Back at their base at the Angels in Gorton the group set to work creating their individual designs using traditional woodcut printing processes.

Without pausing for breath Gorton Visual Arts is now working a mosaic about the Beyer Peacock railway engine works in Gorton. “The factory was at the bottom of our street,” recalls the group’s oldest member, “and every day I’d watch as thousands of men streamed into work. Until we started on this new project, I never had a clue what went on behind those high walls.”

Wallpaper exhibition at Whitworth Art Gallery

Agents of Change

Posted by editor on May 17, 2010 under Art, sport and leisure, Business, training and employment

Len Grant re-visits The Sharp Project to record the finishing touches to a stunning artwork by an internationally-renowned group of ‘graffiti-artists’.

In a previous life this aircraft hanger of a building stored microwaves, TVs, copies and printers for Sharp, the multi-national electronics corporation and one-time sponsor of Newton Heath’s most famous sons, Manchester United. Now it’s The Sharp Project, where shipping containers provide accommodation for fledging media companies and cavernous spaces lots of scope for TV drama sets.

Last week The Sharp Project on Thorp Road was ‘invaded’ by a graffiti-art group who, for three days, painted and spayed an immense mural across a warehouse wall that may once have been stacked high with video cassette recorders.

Agents of Change, a collective of artists who, like a disparate rock band, come together to produce spectacular artworks before dispersing across the world to do their own projects. One member of the group, Remi, has sandwiched Newton Heath into a travel itinerary that includes San Francisco, New York and Madrid.

Their last project together, ‘The Ghostvillage Project’ involved changing an abandoned concrete village, built for but never lived in by oil workers and their families in Scotland, into an innovative art gallery.

This current project was part of last week’s FutureEverything Festival.

See the Agents of Change website.
See the Sharp Project website.

FC United: Welcome Home

Posted by editor on May 4, 2010 under Art, sport and leisure, Community

FC United of Manchester, the anti-Glazer protest club, are set to move back to their spiritual roots.

The Ten Acre Lane Sports Complex: a homecoming for FC United

Back in 1878, the year that football referees first started using whistles, the workers of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway would play their home matches on North Road, opposite the carriage and wagon works where the players toiled together during the day.

Their team – Newton Heath (L and YR) Football Club – played in a strip of gold and green and subsequently joined the newly-formed football league in 1892 and, a decade later, were renamed Manchester United.

The rest, you might say, is history and to continue the clichés, history does have a habit of repeating itself. So, only last month, FC United of Manchester, the anti-Glazer club set up in 2005, announced its intention to move back to its ancestral home in Newton Heath. Backed by Manchester City Council and New East Manchester the supporter-owned club plans to develop a rundown sports centre into a 5000-capacity stadium with community sports facilities alongside.

See FC United of Manchester’s website

One Night Only

Posted by editor on April 1, 2010 under Art, sport and leisure

Len Grant nips across to Gorton Visual Arts (GVA) at The Angels to report on Yvonne Royle’s solo exhibition.

"We're looking for a permanent home for the work now," says Yvonne

"We're looking for a permanent home for the work now," says Yvonne

Although I photographed Yvonne preparing for this show a couple of months ago I wasn’t expecting the riot of colour and energy she has put into these large-scale murals.

Happy or scarry?The panels are full to bursting with weird and wonderful characters that begin life in her imagination. “Music is my inspiration,” says Yvonne, who joined GVA as the community art group were completing their Belle Vue mosaic. “I feel free when I’m drawing and listening to music. Anything from the 80s and the images just come to me.”

Yvonne’s original drawings were projected onto the wooden panels and then, assisted by artist, Andrew McKay, Yvonne has transformed them into larger-than-life characters.

Yvonne's neice Rebecca get's up close

Yvonne's neice Rebecca gets up close

It was great to see so many friends and family descend on the GVA’s studio last night to celebrate Yvonne’s achievement.

“We’re looking for a permanent venue for the work now,” she tells me, “somewhere it can be enjoyed for a long time.”