How we see art very much depends on the time we’re living in. Many of Gallery Oldham‘s paintings have been in our collections for decades, but seem to have taken on a new significance lately. Volunteer Francine McMahon shares three works in our collection which now seem really different as a result of the changes our lives have been through.
With the final stages of reopening upon us (touch wood), it’s exciting to be thinking about all the things we will be able to do again in the coming months. Brighter days are ahead, even if the weather isn’t showing it, and the one thing that we’re sure most people will be looking forward to is being able to spend time with other people again. To mark the reopening of galleries, indoor dining, and other social activities this month, this post takes a pit-stop tour through some of the works you may have seen before, that now take on a whole new meaning. Having not been able to spend time with loved ones for the best part of a year, and being under restrictions when you do, looking at these works feels even more emotional now that they represent our post-Covid hopes; being close to people again. So, to mark the light at the end of the tunnel (again, touch wood…) let’s live vicariously through artworks in Gallery Oldham’s collection, and think of days ahead.
First up is this Ray Walker piece. Although posthumously most widely known for his murals, this particular oil painting feels particularly apt for a post-Covid world, in which we hope to gather, hug, converse, and re-adapt to the usual joys and chaos of ‘normal’ life again. Extra points for putting away the tracksuit bottoms and digging out an orange dress and pink heels ensemble on June 21st, too.
This watercolour by Scottish artist Annie French, known as one of the Glasgow Girls, depicts a happy scene of girls returning from a rose garden. The artwork is a heartwarming scene of friends spending time together in a way we can now hopefully be looking forward to. Annie French’s works are characterised by their delicate beauty and romantic nature, in whichever medium she uses. In this way, they speak to hopes for a warm summer spent in the sun with loved ones, if only the weather would get the memo.
Never has the British seaside felt more appealing than after the best part of a year spent in lockdown, unable to go much further than the supermarket. This tempera painting by Joseph Edward Southall, despite being painted over a century ago, captures the unique charm of the nation’s coastal towns in a way that transcends time. This summer, UK seaside destinations can expect influxes of holidaymakers in a post-Covid revival of the Great British Holiday. Just don’t forget a jumper.