Staring through the windows looking at the trees in Peel Park and listening to the Chamber Orchestra's music, one could forget that Salford is not just the `dirty old town' of popular culture. Indeed Salford Art Club's Annual Exhibition in the Peel Park gallery, opened on Saturday by Professor John Hyatt, shows the creativity and artistic talent that is within this city from artists young and old, experienced and inexperienced alike.
There's the additional bonus of the opportunity to see The Bandstand by L S Lowry, one of the Salford Art Club's previous members, which has been loaned back to its former Peel Park home where it hung from 1947 to 2000, originally on sale for £21.
Back home in the familiar surroundings of the Salford Art Gallery, Lowry's Bandstand hangs on the wall at ease with exhibits created by the current members of the Salford Art Club, which to me shows the high standard of work displayed by its members.
For those with an eye to social change you can look out onto Peel Park from the gallery and see how much the park and landscape has changed from when Lowry created his work in 1927, and how the bandstand, the focus of the painting, is no longer there. The Mayor of Salford, Councillor George Wilson, rued the lack of bandstands in our parks and underuse of those few that remain, and added that "this is a fantastic exhibition...there is so much artistry in Salford".
With 90 pieces of original art work, many for sale and in a variety of different media, the exhibition is sure to suit all artistic tastes. There are landscapes, portraits, paintings, pastels and even some wooden sculpture, many of the pieces also show local landmarks and it is interesting to see how the various artists have depicted these.
The exhibition also pays tribute to the work of former members of the Salford Art Club, including pieces by Audrey Walker who was a respected and much loved professional life model who very recently passed away. Audrey held a place in the hearts of many members who spoke fondly of her, which shows the spirit of community within the Club.
The opening of the exhibition was not just about looking at the work, but also to present a number of awards… Albert Sawyer - Best Picture of a Figure; Audrey Morrisey - Best Landscape; and Robert Bindloss - Best Picture Overall. Visitors to the exhibition are asked to write their thoughts in the comments book and also to vote on their favourite piece of work.
Steven Savory, Chairman of the Salford Art Club said "there is a lot of variety and high quality work in this year's exhibition", a statement which I thoroughly agree with.
The Salford Art Club's Annual Exhibition is well worth a visit and as work is for sale you may pick up the Lowry of tomorrow at a bargain price, just as The Bandstand was in 1947. As the Mayor told guests, he often saw Lowry dropping screwed up pieces of paper - and if he had known then what he knew now he would have picked them up!
The Salford Art Club's Annual Exhibition is free and runs until 6th February 2011.
Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Peel Park, Crescent, Salford M5 4WU
0161 778 0800
The Salford Art Club meets every Wednesday between 7:15 and 9:15pm at Salford's Peel Park Museum and Art Gallery for practical demonstrations, tutorials, discussions and speakers. The club is open to anyone and all members no matter how experienced can show off their work at the annual exhibition. For more information visit http://www.salfordartclub.co.uk/
Words and photos by Gareth Lyons