Posts tagged: Visibilities

Rowan Pritchard Reflects On Two Years With The Collection

Hi, I’m Rowan and I have been working with the Art Collection for just over two years as a Team Assistant. Now in December 2023, my time as Team Assistant comes to an end.

Trying to sum up the last two years in just one blog post is quite a challenge. Here are just a few ways I’ve tried to summarise my time working with the Art Collection:

  • Over 400 meetings
  • Over 20 exhibitions
  • 41 (now 42!) blog posts
  • 12 major collaborative projects 
  • 1 entire store move

(plus an incalculable number of cups of coffee!)

Here are some snapshots that capture just a few of my standout moments from working with the Collection.

Artist Mollie Balshaw installing their work ‘Depression Day Realness’ 2021 for Theirs, Yours, Ours.
Installing Mollie Balshaw’s work Depression Day Realness, 2021 for Theirs, Yours, Ours.

The many exhibition installs and take-downs I had the opportunity to work on, particularly installing Mollie Balshaw’s garden chair self-portrait for Theirs, Yours, Ours in the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery back in 2022. I am still quite envious of those flaming socks.

Condition checking prints in the Art Store.
Cleaning the back of a work on canvas with the Museum Vac.

I have loved learning about the nerdier side of collections care, from the agents of deterioration to environmental monitoring and the museum vac. Even a visit from the air quality control man was thrilling in the moment.

A screenshot from Albert Adams: In Context, showing cross sections of paint layers.
 An expressive etching, depicting faceless figures outlined in black against a natural yellowed background.
Albert Adams, Deposition, 1955, Print. Image Courtesy the Artist’s Estate. Photography by Museums Photography North West.

Learning all about Albert Adams through the Albert Adams: In Context project, and digitising so many of his works that they began to haunt my dreams. Alexandra Lawson’s presentation during the symposium diving into her conservation work on one of Adams’ paintings was truly fascinating, and I particularly loved seeing the microscopic layers of paint. And Greg Thorpe’s beautiful blog exploring Adams’ life and work through objects from his archive will stick with me for a long time.

Young people from Our Time, Our Place visit the art store. Photography by Gwen Riley Jones.
Installation view: Some Days I Feel Triangle at New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery. Photography by Gwen Riley Jones.

Working with Gwen Riley Jones and the young people she connected with through Action for Conservation and Salford Youth Service. I was blown away by their confidence and generosity when sharing their thoughts about artwork. They have taught me to be more open-minded in the way I think about artwork.

Accepting the Collection’s 2021 Green Impact platinum award. Courtesy the Enviromental Sustainability Team.
Myself and Gael Dundas from Imperial War Museums at Art Action >> Climate Crisis.

Going Green! Being the Collection’s Green Champion over the last two years has been really rewarding. From stiffy bags (the silver reusable alternative to bubble wrap!) to Hybrid Futures, working with sustainability underpinning what we do, and seeing that work recognised through programmes like Green Impact and the recent Green Gown awards has been fab. Earlier this year I attended Art Action >> Climate Crisis, a two-day conference held by the Gallery Climate Coalition and Whitechapel Gallery; seeing and hearing from the network of people within our sector and beyond who care passionately about the environment and are taking steps to protect it has restored my faith a little.

Installation View: Visibilities at New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery, 2023. Photography by Jules Lister.

It would be completely remiss of me not to talk about the amazing curatorial opportunities I’ve been entrusted with over the past year. Being invited to curate a collection exhibition for the New Adelphi Gallery was a huge honour. It was a daunting prospect choosing from all of the artwork in the Collection, but the work I chose for Visibilities I hope reflects just a little of the brilliant work the Collection has been doing over the past ten years.

Discussing the work selected for Salford Scholars at The Manchester Contemporary. Photography by Sam Parker.
Salford Scholars Team at The Manchester Contemporary 2023. Photography by Sam Parker.

Finally, I’ve still not completed processing Salford Scholars at The Manchester Contemporary, where months of planning, studio visits, and working closely with our partners at Castlefield Gallery culminated in one whirlwind of a weekend. I am so pleased with our presentation at the Contemporary, and working with all of the artists and partners involved was a treat. The Graduate Scholarship Programme really is something to shout about, with over 50 scholarships offered to graduates over the last ten years.

Installation View: Salford Scholars at The Manchester Contemporary 2023. Photography by Sam Parker.
Taking down Salford Scholars at The Manchester Contemporary 2023.

It would be impossible to touch on all of the things I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with while working in the Collection, and I think trying to capture all of the ways it has impacted me is futile as I won’t be able to do it justice. Working with Steph and Lindsay has been an absolute joy and I want to thank them both for being so generous in sharing their expertise and experience with me. I am excited for Sam Parker, the new team assistant who has joined the Collection as a fresh 2023 Graduate just embarking on this journey. Best of luck Sam! You can read his introductory blog and get to know more about him here.

Rowan Pritchard

Dec 2023

Artwork of the Month – Salford Faces by Gwilym Hughes

August’s artwork of the month is Salford Faces by Gwilym Hughes. This artwork is currently on display in our New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery as part of Visibilities: Shaping a story of nowFor this artwork of the month, Visibilities Curator Rowan Pritchard explores the work in more detail. 

In Salford Faces, four layers of giclee prints in cyan, magenta, yellow and black are superimposed to form a portrait

Gwilym Hughes found this face in a photograph at the Salford Local History Library. With an ongoing interest in anonymous faces, whose names are no longer recorded, or who might never have known they were having their photograph taken, Gwilym’s work brings close attention to these people who are ‘lost’ in the archives. 

The image is painstakingly hand-drawn using slow and intensive techniques. Rendered first as an intimate relief etching, the portrait is then enlarged and presented as a lightbox. The face, once forgotten, can no longer be overlooked when displayed at this scale, illuminated as it stares back at us. 

Installation View: Visibilities: Shaping a story of now, 2023.

Speaking about Salford Faces, Rowan shares: 

“I picked this work because it speaks directly to the ideas of preservation, questioning whose names we write down and record. 

In Visibilities, I wanted to dig a little into who is represented in the University’s collecting; whose stories, artworks, and achievements are we preserving as an institution? And this work relates to that directly. In the exhibition, Salford Faces is presented next to Silver Triple Pop by Gavin Turk, an artwork full of reference and reverence for men like Elvis, Andy Warhol, and Sid Vicious, whose names and images are inviolably linked to our understandings of culture – preserved and remembered. 

In contrast, Salford Faces not only begins to question why some people are remembered while others are not but creates a space for those forgotten voices to be remembered, re-enshrining them into the archives through their new representation in the University Art Collection.”

A black and white print shows the artist stood in overlaping triplicate, with his feet apart, holding a pistol at waist height, pointed towards the viewer. He is dressed as Sid Vicious, impersonating Elvis.
Gavin Turk, Silver Triple Pop, 2009, print. Courtesy the artist. Photography by Museums Photography North West.
Layers of cyan, magenta, and yellow hand drawn marks form the image of a mans face.
Gwilym Hughes, Salford Faces, 2018, lightbox. Courtesy the artist.

Visibilities continues at the New Adelphi Exhibition Gallery until the end of the month, closing on the 25th of August. You can read more about the exhibition here

Want to hear more from Rowan about Visibilities? Join Rowan and Stephanie Fletcher for a curators tour of the exhibition next week! 1:30pm, Tuesday 15th August 👉 Click here for more information & to book your free tickets. 

Join us for a Lunchtime Exhibition Tour – Visibilities (1:30pm, 15th Aug)

Join Visibilities curator Rowan Pritchard, with Stephanie Fletcher (Art Collection, Assistant Curator) for a lunchtime tour of Visibilities: Shaping a story of now, our current exhibition on display at our New Adelphi Gallery, before it closes at the end of August!

An images shows a man and a woman reaching out for each other and holding hands by the water front. Behind them the Wuhan skyline rises into the blue sky.
Wu Yue, Reconnected, 2020. Courtesy the Artist.

Visibilities brings together works from the Collection to explore and examine who and what is represented in our contemporary collecting, and how these visibilities shape what we think of as our ‘stories of now’.

Read more about the exhibition, here.

This informal tour will provide greater insight into the themes behind the exhibition and the work of the University’s Art Collection, as well as offer a chance to ask any questions you may have for the curatorial team about the exhibition.