One of the defining traits of Salford’s captivating history has been its relationship with art.

From L.S Lowry to Harold Riley, Salford has always enjoyed proving to people that anything they can do, we can do, and better. 

“Days Like These” is an exhibition set to come to The Lowry on the 1st of November. It aims to share Salford locals’ stories during 2020 a year, which we all know, has been very eventful.

Lifelong Salford resident Philip Westcott is one of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibition, and I got to talk to him about the new collection. 

He said: “I’ve lived in Salford all my life. I was born not far from Hope Hospital, and I now live in Eccles.

“I started in the 70’s so I have been painting Salford for 40 years now.”

He continued: “It’s become a kind of a historical document, I didn’t start because of that, but looking back now, you can see how it’s become one. As the terraced housing comes down and the flats go up.”

This new exhibition will be the first time The Lowry has opened its galleries since lockdown was brought in some six months ago.

Like many of us, Philip now had the task of trying to work during the pandemic, which turned into something he found peace of mind in.

Philip explained, “It’s the emotion of it, really. It was quite striking.

“It’s a way of escape. You forget about the problems; you’re in your own little world painting.”

This is something that a few people took up as he explains.

“It was very stressful, yeah, a lot of people have gotten in touch and said that they’d taken it up now. It’s sort of like meditation in a way.”

In Westcott’s style of painting, you can see the Salford roots running right through him. He paints scenes akin to those you would see in a Lowry painting. This, he says, is a concerted effort.

He explains: “Other artists I know will show you what they’re feeling, whereas I try to portray people as they are and how it affects them. It could be a historical document of these times.”

But the exhibition is not just full of his paintings; it incorporates other Salford resident’s artwork into it. 

“As well as my painting showing my experience, people’s poems and writing will be showing their experience.”

Unfortunately, the arts have been in the news a lot recently due to the Prime Minister’s reluctance to provide any funding. But, from Westcott’s point of view, the arts will always be in Salford. 

“Arts always had a very good link with Salford with L.S Lowry and Harold Riley” He explained.

“It shows in Salfords history there have always been artists there to capture it. It’s ingrained in us, isn’t it?”

The financial side of the business is what has been missed by artists as well as explained. 

I had an exhibition coming up in Saddleworth, and it can cost up to a thousand pounds to put this on. Luckily I was able to cancel it early enough.

I also finance my materials through sales at Open exhibitions, and these have been cancelled until recently. For some artists, this must be a real problem.”

But the effects will be felt much more comprehensive than just the artists, as Westcott explains.

“We’re suffering already, and; it’s going to be one of those things; people won’t appreciate it until it’s gone.”

“Days Like These is “going to bring the people of Salford together.

“It’s showing how people need art when they’re in a situation like this.”

After a turbulent year, what people need is to hear other people’s stories. This exhibition has documented Salfordians 2020, from the empty streets to the day people reunited with each other for the first time.

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