Art? In Wigan?

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It’s well known (by me, at least) that Wigan is something of a cultural black hole. It’s a great town for sport but the Local Authority have no real interest in art and culture (unlike Wakefield, a very similar town over the other side of the Pennines). They closed the only gallery in town a few years ago.So I was surprised to pick up a leaflet advertising and Arts Festival in Wigan. Turns out that it was organised by a local Arts group based at the Old Courts building at the back of the Parish Church. One of the things they’d organised was an exhibition of works by local artists, so last Saturday I popped in to take a look.

It wasn’t a large exhibition, and I wouldn’t say that any of the works were ground-breaking, but there were a number of pictures I liked.

This painting by Mike Fahey – Mill Girl Wallgate 1907 – referenced the town’s history as a centre of cotton production. I like the way he’s superimposed his figure and cotton spinning machinery on top of a map of the town.


This mixed media abstract landscape by Sharon Barnes – Sylvan Twilight  – is based on the coast at Sefton (Formby and Southport). I like the way she has incorporated found objects and the colours are very atmospheric, suggesting a stormy afternoon.


This Untitled work by Joyce Carlton is made from folded paper. The individual pieces are perhaps a little slim to represent books. But they rather reminded me of my collection of vinyl record or, possibly, CDs.


A sample of other works on display

Crompton’s Nog and acrylic painting by David Stanley


Shrinkining Shelters – Tripytch by Georgia Marlowe


Over mountain and dark sea, the sun made our wings bronze by Elaine Philips


I enjoyed the exhibition and hope the Old Courts group can build on their efforts. Good luck to them!


5 thoughts on “Art? In Wigan?

  1. Thanks for posting this, it’s about time we saw a resurrection of art in the borough. I don’t know where you saw this advertised because I find it very difficult to find out what’s going onat the Turnpike.

    Anyhow, because I know three of the artists you mention in your post I made the effort to go and see it last Tuesday only to find the shutters down on the gallery. When I enquired at the information desk in the library downstairs I was met with blank faces – they couldn’t tell me anything about the exhibition or when it would be open! So much for the resurrection of art in Wigan, eh?!

    However, I do have some positive news about the Turnpike Gallery because another artist friend of mine has been successful in getting one of his drawings accepted in the Jerwood Drawing prize, which is one of the major UK prizes for artists. Each year all of the winning entries are exhibited in London and two other venues and, much to my astonishment, he told me that this year its northern venue will be the Turnpike in January 2017 – but other than on the Jerwoon website I haven’t seen anything advertising this anywhere.

    Keep up the gallery reports


  2. Malcolm, apologies for not replying sooner.
    It was only a temporary exhibition and only on for a week.
    I’ve not been to the Turnpike for ages as, like you say, it’s not easy to find out what’s on. The Council don’t advertise it very well so you have to actively seek out information. They really aren’t interested in promoting the Arts. Sport is everything.
    I’ll look forward to the Jerwood exhibition – if I can find out when it’s on!!

  3. The Swinley Group have an Exhibition on in The Isherwood Gallery at The Old Courts in Wigan Saturday 23rd February, then Wednesday to Saturday March 3rd next week . 11am to 4 pm. Many talented artists mainly local . Beth Burke . The Swinley Group.

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