After an enjoyable visit to Oldham Art Gallery I moved on to Rochdale. The weather had changed for the worse but uplifted by this visit I pioneered on.
I was not disappointed; the gallery had been updated since I exhibited there in 1989 and featured a diversity of artists.
The first room featured Women Artists from 1861 to 2015 and there was some excellent work. The second gallery had a variety of paintings from a private collection of 20th century and contemporary art. As always this was a mixed bag often open to interpretation. You had to go through a curtain as there were scenes of an adult nature. One of these was a video of a naked woman with a cardboard house on her head banging her head against two walls! I often feel the same way when viewing some of these exhibits!
The last room featured work by Louise Giovanelli. She had researched the fine art collection and re-configured these casting them in a different light and suggesting new narratives. The ceiling dome was impressive in this room.
One of the reasons I visited these galleries was looking at exhibition spaces for future shows. This has become a lot harder and I feel sorry for artists starting out. I began by showing my work in a local library. The curator of Salford Art gallery Mike Leiber saw my work and invited me to exhibit in Swinton art gallery; a small place but influential. From this he took a keen interest in my work, as he had in the past with L S Lowry and Harold Riley, and I was invited to have two major exhibitions over the years at Salford Art Gallery.
Nowadays these small exhibition places for local artists starting off in their careers have vanished and it is becoming increasingly hard to exhibit your work. Several of the major galleries have either closed their lists altogether or have a waiting list stretching several years. Because of cutbacks shows are now on for longer to save on advertising and changeover costs.
This is why it was inspiring to see somewhere like Oldham, where one gallery is kept to one side for local artists. I hope this is a growing trend.