Sometimes it's good to do something different. On this occasion we decided to go to a Geek Christmas fair in Warrington. On a cold Saturday afternoon we arrived and following the Map found the event. The first impression of this was a little disappointing as there were only about five stalls on a small side street. Although, we did feel safe with the caped crusader watching over us!
In 1992, I had exhibited at Warrington Art gallery so we decided to have a look around it to see the present exhibitions. Whilst looking at the paintings on show, I was surprised to notice a poster telling us about an 1857 exhibition that took place at Old Trafford. This was held in a glass and iron palace; modeled on the Great Exhibition palace of 1851, at Crystal palace,
Apparently over the 22 week exhibition over 1.3 million people attended with great queues to see the works. On show were over 16.000 pieces of art including paintings by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Constable and Turner.
It seems hard to imagine what this must have been like and I wonder what ever happened to this stunning building.
Wandering further around the room we found an exhibition by Hot Press, a group of print makers established in 1994. On show were a range of interesting prints by the members, showing a wide range of techniques.
, We climbed the stairs to see the exhibition on the balcony On show was the artwork of the Warrington School of Art, a group I had not heard of before.
It started in the art gallery and opened in 1857. The most famous members were Luke Fildes, Henry Woods, Edward Brewtnall, George Sheffield, sculptor John “Warrington” Wood and engraver Hedley Fitton.
As the membership grew they erected a new-purpose built school of art across the road from the gallery.
By 1861, they had 147 full time students and won 30 local medals and five national medallions. By this time it was the largest provincial school of art in the country with over 1170 part time students.
As I travel around the country, I find it fascinating when I come across the old schools of art. After visiting Staines (Yorkshire) and viewing the work of the group there, it was interesting to find out about this group as well. Several of the members exhibited with the Royal Academy and there must have been a thriving community at the time. You wonder why groups like this finally passed into history and its only by exhibitions like this that people find out about them.
Later, after our visit to the art gallery, we did find a wider selection of 'Geek' stalls in the indoor market but by this time they were getting ready to close. It was a shame that we hadn't discovered this sooner. Oh well there's always next year!
So, not an afternoon we expected but we viewed some fascinating exhibitions and we learnt a lot about our local art history.