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

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.”