A new exhibition will celebrate Salford’s green spaces and forgotten histories.
Four local artists have been commissioned by The University of Salford Art Collection and Salford Museum and Art Gallery as part of You Belong Here: Artists Rediscovering Salford’s Green Spaces, set to open imminently.
Hilary Jack, Lizzie King, Jack Brown and Cheddar Gorgeous have each created new, unique artworks for the exhibition, which is part of the city-wide Rediscovering Salford programme, celebrating the city’s green spaces and forgotten histories, initially inspired by the opening of RHS Bridgewater.
The exhibition will also feature archive material, photographs, and artwork from history.
The Storm Cone, by Laura Daly, will be presented at the same time. It is an immersive artwork based at Peel Park, featuring music composed by Lucy Pankhurst. This work celebrates the city’s bandstands and their histories.
Hilary Jack, artist and co-founder/director of Paradise Works, an artist studio in Green Gate, has decided to create a series of sculptural bird boxes inspired by Salford’s lost buildings.
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Discussing her inspiration, Hilary said: “The selected artists were offered digital access to the museum and art galleries collection, which included loads of fascinating objects, ephemera and original art works.
“Within the collection, I was surprised to find paintings, drawings, and postcards of architecturally impressive mansion houses and halls owned by rich industrialists and landowners.
“Within the collection, paintings and drawings by LS Lowry clearly show a bustling Peel Park with an architecturally rich landscape in the distance — an entire landscape of cotton mills, workhouses, industrial buildings, back-to-back terraces, and slums. Most of which have been lost over time.
“During my research, I discovered that the industrial revolution had a detrimental impact on wildlife due to pollution, but when the cotton industry in the north began to fail, these buildings fell into disrepair, were abandoned, and then taken over by nature, wildlife and birds nesting in the fabric of the empty buildings.
“Finally, the buildings were demolished leaving birds homeless.”
She continued: “I had the idea to recreate the Salford landscape through a series of architectural models made from wood to function as birdhouses.”
When the exhibition ends, elements of Hilary’s work will be installed outdoors in trees in the parkland around Salford.
She said: “The title of my work is Uneven Ground – I hope it suggests something topographical as well as a hierarchical – an uneven playing field – the unfairness of society etc, for humans and nature/the environment.
“I’m interested in how cities change. What is saved and what is lost. How buildings fall in and out of fashion and how communities are affected.”
(Video Courtesy of Victoria Smith)
For her work, Salford-based artist Lizzie King chose to look at the history of Peel Park.
“The history behind it is what really inspired me. Salford has a rough history with its people living in poverty and the landscape being full of factories and smog.
“Peel Park was one of the first public parks where anyone could go of any class. It is a park that is for everyone, accessible to everyone. That is what really inspires me.”
She added: “This is part of our history that we should really celebrate, the inclusivity of this space for accessing nature, for good physical and mental health.
“Salford has a lot of firsts in its history, including Peel Park’s birth, it is something to be proud of and celebrate the beauty of it.”
In her work for the exhibition, Lizzie specifically focuses on the bench as a symbol of belonging.
“There are many green spaces, but you are not to stop, they want you to carry on walking on through.
“A bench says, ‘You Belong Here’, it asks you to stop and connect yourself into the nature; to physically become one with the space.
“Even as a wheelchair user, it is a symbol that I can stop and take in the nature around me, that I belong in the park.”
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On what visitors can expect from the exhibition, Lizzie said: “People can expect different views on green spaces from the You Belong Here exhibition. I hope that it helps people reassess their thoughts on green spaces as they look at four different takes and focuses on Salford’s green spaces.
“The archive material that will be on show will also help deepen understanding of the history of these places and what they have meant to Salfordians and visitors over the years.”
Unfortunately, hailstorm damage has delayed the planned May 29th opening of the exhibition.
Although a revised date has not yet been revealed, Salford Museum and Art Gallery have said they are keen to open up to the public as soon as possible.
You can keep an eye on their social media for updates.