New Gallery: Oldham Stories: Encounters with our Collections, Gallery Oldham, Oldham, opens February 9 2013
Ed Hall’s banner, The Adoration of the Chip, was part of Jeremy Deller’s Procession at the 2009 Manchester International Festival. An Edwardian chemist’s shop has been opened, unleashing “authentic smells” and drawers you can rifle through. And birds, shells, time capsules and typewriters all come from Oldham’s history, ushered in by the resident owls best known for watching over the town’s crest.
Gallery Oldham has become known for lively temporary exhibitions, but this display is partly a response to local requests for more of the permanent collection to be given the spotlight.
That means more space for fine art and natural history collections, as well as the industrial history of an area where many firms were once world leaders and 30 percent of the country’s spun cotton was once produced.
There are a few crossovers: two of the self-taught naturalists were a printer (James Nield) and a mill worker (Fred Taylor).
Charles Lees, whose watercolours make up an enviable collection, was an industrialist whose wife, Dame Sarah, donated a spectacular banner from the suffrage movement. She was also the first female Mayor of the Borough.
Wildlife exhibits include shells procured from far and wide. The owls have the last laugh, though, with a new Owl Trail leading the way around the corridors.
- Open 10am-5pm. Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @GalleryOldham.