Tag Archive: Exhibition

  1. Touring exhibition: Zarah Hussain’s Light Upon Light

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    Our latest touring show, Zarah Hussain’s exhibition Light Upon Light, opens at Rugby Museum & Art Gallery on 18 September and runs until 9 October 2021. After that it will travel to Gallery Oldham (delayed from January 2020) and will be exhibited from 22 January until 14 May 2022. Light Upon Light will then be on display at The Atkinson, Southport from 11 June to 24 September 2022.

    In this blog, we chat to Zarah Hussain about life as an artist and her new work.

    Hi Zarah, thanks for chatting to us. 

    When you were at school what did you want to do when you grew up? 

    Art was always my favourite subject at school. At that time I didn’t really know that you could be a full time artist. My parents and teachers encouraged me to pursue more academic subjects, in the end I went to University to study English and History, after that I got a job at the BBC as a researcher.

    I never gave up on my love for art, I carried on painting and making work. I saw an opportunity to do an MA in Islamic Art in London and I applied – i was very lucky to get a full scholarship to move to London and pursue my dream.

    Have you always managed to work as an artist?

    Working full-time as an artist is not always easy. Most practising artists I know have other sidelines, such as teaching or other part-time work. Once I had graduated, I carried on working in the media, in some ways it was the perfect complementary career as it is freelance and you can choose when you want to work. 

    Since 2011 I have been working more or less as an artist full time with a bit of teaching from time to time..

    What motivates you to get into your studio each day?

    I normally work from 9.15 to 3pm everyday, this is my window to concentrate and get as much as possible done while my kids are in school.

    There is nothing like a deadline to motivate work! Joking aside, I love my work and I feel very privileged to be able to do what I love for a living. It is fun and exciting to make and create – I am very lucky. 


    Are there any other artists who inspire you? Does your inspiration come from anywhere else?

    Lots and lots of artists inspire me. Specifically, I like to see work that is inspired by the Islamic world and also mathematical and hard edge geometric work. I love the work of  Monir Farmanfarmaian, her glass mosaics are amazing, Agnes Martin, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Mary Martin, the artist Anila Quayyum Agha does some awe-inspiring installations. There are so many inspirational women and artists out there. 

    I try to see as many exhibitions as I can, I think everything you do and all your experiences combine to inspire work and for me I always keep an open mind and experience as much culture as possible. The last two stand out shows I went to see were ‘Forgotten Masters: Indian painting for the East India Company’ at the Wallace collection and ‘Epic Iran’ at the V&A. 

    Geometric artwork by Zarah Hussain

    How long ago did you have the idea for this new series? Was it an entirely new process for you?

    I have been wanting to work more with geometric 3D shapes for a while now. I first started painting on 3D surfaces back in 2014, using cast resin to create the shapes. However, resin is quite expensive, heavy and laborious to produce. I have spent quite a lot of time in research and development to try and come up with a process that was more efficient and cheaper. Finally, after many prototypes and experimentation I was able to achieve the quality and finish required to make many identical multiple shapes. This exhibition is the first time I have shown works made with this process. 


    Are you planning to use these techniques again in the future, or have you got ideas for new projects using different methods after this?

    I feel like this exhibition is just the start – now that I have perfected the technique of making these shapes there are so many things I can do. I would really like to start using curves in my work to make softer, more biomorphic designs. So watch this space!

    How do you choose which colours to use? Do you have favourite colour combinations?

    Every piece I do starts off with a drawing, I will do many many many multiples until I get the colours right. Sometimes it is easy and straightforward, other times it can take a long time to get the colour tone and balance right. It is quite an intuitive process. 

    Have you got a favourite piece in this exhibition?

    I don’t know yet! I think I have to have space from the artworks as I have been working intensively on these for more than a year. I think when the show is hung up, it will be nice to see everything with fresh eyes. 


    Is there a particular thought or feeling that you hope visitors to Light Upon Light will leave with once they’ve spent time in your exhibition?

    I hope visitors enjoy the show, if they get a good, enjoyable experience from visiting, that is great for me.

    I hope the show sheds some light on Islamic art and design culture, mathematics and how the same small shapes join together to make an almost infinite variety of patterns through colour and repetition. I like the idea of multiplicity, of how small differences in the world create all this beautiful diversity from very similar building blocks. 


    Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

    Work hard and don’t give up!


    Is there anything else you would like readers of this blog post or visitors to the exhibition to know about you or your work?

    This exhibition represents almost 3 years of thinking, of making work. Preparation for the exhibition had to slow down and stop due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am very grateful to the support from Rebecca Hill, Gallery Oldham and Arts Council England to finally see the exhibition go ahead. I can’t wait to see how it all looks in the gallery. 

    Thanks for talking to us Zarah!


    Find out more about our forthcoming exhibition programme by visiting our Exhibitions webpage.

  2. Art of the Everyday

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    Manchester Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition ‘Art of the Everyday’ will run from May 18th – June 26th 2021 at Gallery Oldham. You’ll be able to get a sneaky peak at the exhibition online from the 4th May.

    We decided upon the theme of “the everyday” last year, when we couldn’t have begun to imagine how drastically our everyday lives would change. Since the artists began to work on this exhibition the Covid pandemic has affected every aspect of life as we know it. This will be reflected in the drawings and paintings of the 53 artists taking part in the exhibition.

    The exhibition contains drawing, painting, print making and sculpture.  Artist Colin Taylor’s painting ‘Last day in Manchester’ shows eerily empty streets of the city centre, Alison Diamond Rogers’ wood engraving  ‘Holding Hands’ feels very different from if we’d looked at this 18 months ago. There are also portraits portraits by Kath Lowe of Oldham born Professor Brian Cox and Sir Norman Stoller, who have enhanced our everyday lives through Science and Philanthropy.

    Nearly all of the works in the show are for sale so art can become part of your everyday. Buying a work from the exhibition is a great way to support local artists and our local economy at this tricky time. The easiest way to buy work from the exhibition is to visit the gallery and make your choice, but if you can’t do this you can download the catalogue and price list below.

    Download Art of the Everyday Catalogue

    We will run a digital programme to accompany the exhibition from 4th May. MAFA artists Janina Cerbertowicz and Anthony Ratcliffe share their top artistic tips on Pastel drawing and woodcut relief printing techniques. Anna Thomas and Peter Davis take you behind the scenes in a guided tour of their studios. Our website will also feature filmed interviews with MAFA president Malcolm Taylor and MAFA Exhibition Organiser Kath Lowe, both of whom are successful artists.

    Follow @galleryoldham on Instagram and Twitter or Gallery Oldham on Facebook for more information. For opening times and to plan your visit to the Art of the Everyday exhibition go to our Visitor Information webpage.


    Manchester Academy of Fine Arts 

    Since MAFA’s foundation in 1859 the Academy has promoted fine art and education. Shows held in both public and private galleries in Greater Manchester are often accompanied by talks and workshops which reach out to the community.  Young artists are encouraged and supported, and an annual event is the awarding of prizes to students in their final year at MMU School of Art. This is followed by an invitation to show their work in Academy exhibitions.

    Noteworthy artists including Ford Madox Brown and Alfred Waterhouse, architect of Manchester Town Hall, and the Prudential Assurance grade 11 listed building on Union Street Oldham, were active members, as was L.S. Lowry who first studied at Academy classes and exhibited in the annual show for forty years.

    Past members of the Academy from Oldham include William Stott of Oldham, James Fitton RA and Charles Potter. Indeed Charles Potter’s painting was the 1st one in the gallery’s collection. The first Academy exhibition was held at Oldham in 1951. 

    Winter, Llyn Dulyn by Charles Potter

    To find out more about the Academy and its artists members please visit the MAFA website www.mafa.org.uk or view their Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feed to keep up to date with news of events and further exhibitions.

  3. Oldham Open – Speaking to the Artists

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    The Gallery Oldham Collective catch up with artist Howard Jones to talk about his artwork currently display in the Oldham Open 2019.

    What are the titles of the artwork you entered in the Oldham Open 2019?

    I had 2 paintings accepted for the exhibition. Geoffrey Clover was a painting in oils and was bought by Gallery Oldham. And a pint of cream please was a large oil painting of a huge strawberry resting on a fork.

    Can you tell me a bit more about your pieces?

    Medium for both subjects as mentioned was in oils. The reference for the painting of Geoffrey was from a photo that a friend of mine did, Les Stott.

    Is there a specific concept surrounding your piece or do you intend for the viewer to add their own interpretation?

    I chose the subject Geoffrey because he was a well-known figure in Oldham. The painting And a pint of cream please I did basically just to see if I could scale it up well from an A4 photo, although I do prefer impressionistic paintings where you leave the viewers brain to decipher the image.

    How long did it take to create this artwork?

    Both paintings, although there’s much difference in size, took about the same length of time, approximately 12 hours on each.

    Has another artist or event influenced the ideas behind your artwork?

    I attended David Hockney’s preview night at the Royal Academy in London a couple of years ago because I like his approach to his work. I also like Monet and most impressionists but very much admire Jack Vettriano’s work too!….so a wide variety really.

    Are you a full-time artist?

    I am a retired traditional signwriter and ran my own business ( in Oldham ) for 36 years. Painting is now very much a hobby and takes up most of my time. If I had my time over again I would certainly strive to be a full time artist.

    What made you enter the Oldham Open 2019?

    Just to see if my work was good enough to be accepted.

    How do you seek out opportunities like the Oldham Open?

    I have known about the Oldham Open for a few years and called at the gallery about this time last year when Rebecca informed me that it was staged every two years and she gave me the basic info. about entering.

    What advice would you give to aspiring artists and creatives?

    I would advise any aspiring artist to push themselves into a style that they are happy and confident with. I was lucky enough to be put forward ( at the age of 13 ) for the entrance examination at Oldham Art College, which was then just across the road from the gallery. It was a 4 year course and I gained invaluable knowledge from the various teachers there. If you can get yourself on an art course you will not regret it as there are various avenues in the art field to further yourselves.

    Please could you tell me one interesting fact about yourself? It doesn’t need to be art related.

    It seems funny now but when I was around about 7 or 8 years old I was at Roundthorn Junior School and our class were asked to design a ‘’poster’’ about road safety. My piece entitled This is Your Life was chosen out of the whole class and the finished work was placed on the walls of Oldham Art Gallery all those years ago! The headmaster arranged for the whole class to go to the gallery to see mine and other winning children’s work on display. Gosh, I was quite a proud young boy !

  4. Oldham Open – Speaking to the Artists

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    This week the Gallery Oldham Collective caught up with artist Titus Agbara who is showing a new piece in the Oldham Open 2019.

    What is the title of the artwork that you entered into the Oldham Open?

    It is called Built on Cotton and Coal.

    Can you tell us a bit more about this piece?

    It’s inspired by the history of Oldham and my new environment. When researching the history of the town I found out that the historic industry of the area is disappearing, this painting suggests how fleeting life is. This composition reflects the uncertainty of life as it goes up and down like the Huddersfield Road. I have used charcoal to link back to the coal industry and the other vibrant areas are representative of cotton.

    Is there a specific idea behind your piece to do you intend the viewer to add their own interpretation?

    It’s for the viewer to reflect back to the industrial era, and how it has gradually crepted away. I leave the viewer to imagine why there are no tall chimneys in the painting as suggested by the title of the work.

    How long did it take to create the artwork?

    It took me about one and a half years to finish this work, but I didn’t work on it continuously. I had other work that needed finishing within a specific timescale so I had to leave it and go back to it later.

    Has another artist or event influenced the ideas behind your artwork?

    My work is a personal response. In this piece I have tried to capture the spirit of Oldham, as a place.

    What made you want to enter the Oldham Open 2019?

    I am just being inquisitive. The Oldham Open is an opportunity for artists to get involved in the art world and it has helped my career as an artist.

    What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?

    Do not limit yourself. There is a time for everything, so keep on keeping your tradition. Being involved in the art world is not just for the sophisticated few, art is for everyone.

    Tell us one interesting fact about yourself? It doesn’t have to be art related.

    I love all kinds of music and enjoy being playful with my two little birds (kids). Spending time with my family helps to reset my body, mind and soul.

  5. Oldham Open exhibition – Speaking to the Artists

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    Over the next month young people from the Gallery Oldham Collective will be catching up with some of the artists who are currently showing their work in the Oldham Open 2019. This week they interviewed Justin Hodder.

    What are the titles of the artworks you entered in the Oldham Open?

    I entered two pieces – ‘Gone’ and ‘Morning.’

    Can you tell me a bit more about your piece? (I.e. medium/photography/ specific techniques).

    Theses pieces are paper collages.

    Is there a specific concept surrounding your piece or do you intend for the viewer to add their own interpretation?

    There is no specific concept at the beginning. I arrange materials to try and create an interesting visual image.  The idea/concept comes as I am doing this. There is one meaning only in the artwork. Interpretation varies according to the viewer.

    How long did it take to create this artwork?

    Hard to say as I will work on an artwork sporadically. I often have many pieces ‘on the go’ simultaneously.

    Has another artist/ or event influenced the ideas behind your artwork?

    Yes, I draw inspiration from many artists. Occasionally I am influenced by events, usually historical.

    What made you want to enter the Oldham open?

    I like Gallery Oldham and the opportunity to exhibit there.

    How do you seek out opportunities like the Oldham Open?

    The media / advertising.

    What advice would you give to aspiring artists and creatives?

    Be different. Try various mediums. Recognise strong visual impact. Enjoy creating.