It set out to end ‘the domination of art by a white middle-class male audience’ and it inspired devotion among fans and artists. But was the town ready for it?
Great article, thank you! Particularly enamoured by photo Malcolm Glover's 'Face To The East'. Wonderful.
Thanks Fiona, for me, this is a keen reminder of the shift in the role of public (non-commercial) galleries.
In Rochdale, Oldham & Leigh (at the wonderful Turnpike), good things happened largely inspired by slim resources & the refreshing liberation from hands of the curatorial establishment. Not everything was a hit, & there were still great shows to be seen in the bigger civic spaces in Manchester, Liverpool & Presto. Cornerhouse opened in 1985 & made a big difference. It wasn’t that its shows were better or worse, it was that the Polytechnic School of Art was down Oxford Road, the bar was good & the cinemas well programmed. The whole package built new audiences that fed into the city region. Dewi Lewis, the first Cornerhouse Director had an interest in photography & publishing & brought them forward & together. Bev Bytheway arrived at Cornerhouse, & new connections were forged between Manchester & the wider community. Jill Morgan & many of the artists she showed arrived at Cornerhouse openings & relationships opened up. Galleries come & go. Cornerhouse went & HOME currently underperforms in a disappointing space (in my view). The artists Fiona references here benefited from Jill’s robust tenure at Rochdale. They didn’t please everyone. Which artist does? When you find yourself in a city with an identifiable art establishment, it is always fruitful to visit the margins.
Enjoyed this long read. Art has always divided people's opinions. Long may that continue.
Very much enjoyed this article, and especially appreciated reading the quotations from so many sources - must have taken a lot of time research! Thanks
Rochdale Art Gallery aka Touchstones is open from 10am until 5pm from Tuesdays (not Thursdays as stated in feature) to Saturdays every week. Plus late night opening on Wednesdays until 9pm!
If you never risk stinkers, you'll never find pearls, you'll only clutch them.
(BTW Picasso used prostitutes as models - they sat still.)