Tag Archive: Gallery Oldham

  1. Project launch: Moss Bothering

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    We are pleased to announce that artist Antony Hall is beginning a three-month project to explore the secret life of historical moss specimens in our natural history collection.

    close up of feathery moss fronds
    A feathery moss growing on a concrete wall

    Mosses are bryophytes, which are a group of plants without roots. Antony will investigate our bryophyte collection and revisit the sites around Oldham where these specimens were originally collected, talking to experts and enthusiasts along the way.

    Antony will be recording his project on his own blog and via posts here on the Gallery Oldham blog.

    Part of Antony’s project will be taking beautiful photographs of these often over-looked plants. Antony will be recording his findings on his own blog and Instagram account. We will be sharing some of these each week on Gallery Oldham’s Instagram.

  2. Oldham’s Lockdown Museum: One Year in Rabia Begum

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    It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create a fascinating and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times.

    To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. Here we look at how a young artist and activist kept positive by strengthening links with her community.

    No. 7, Rabia Begum, artist and activist

    • Tell us a little bit about yourself and or your organisation. Who are you, what do you do? Where are you from?

    Hi, my name is Rabia Begum. I work as a freelance artist, activist, and board member on Manchester Climate Change Youth Board. I am currently based in Liverpool (term time) studying Art & Design History and Psychology at Liverpool Hope University, but home for me is Oldham.

    • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

    I was working as a Visitor Experience Assistant at Gallery Oldham. Volunteering with a local group called Miftaah Initiative, raising £600+ for solar powered water filtration systems in Gaza. Muslims globally shared their first Ramadan in a global pandemic and for many we could reap rewards fasting in the privacy of our own homes without having to worry about physically travelling outside for work/ studies and being grateful for another day. I also wrote my first article for Art UK!

    • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

    Going from keeping myself super busy and on the go to staying at home, sharing my personal space with family, and navigating a balance between work, home, and personal time.

    The absence of my sisters presence is felt greatly this Eid due to lockdown restrictions. Going through the family album, I found this photograph of my sister and I on Eid day in 1998, Osborne Street, Westwood. We lived in this house for a few weeks as our family home was undergoing renovation. Mum noted how we had both hand-picked the traditional South Asian dresses from a popular fashion shop, Modhubon Saree Centre, located in the heart of Westwood.
    • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

    I kept myself occupied through Ramadan by virtually attending webinars and series by Islamic scholars or online platforms, learning more and praying,. Helping my parents around the home and queuing for family food shops when everyone was ill as well as supporting my father who’s mother and sister passed away. Group chats/ Video calling cousins and friends was a collective therapy of sorts.  Physically when we were able to do so, going on walks and exploring new green spaces.

    Small businesses have had to adapt to the Lockdown restrictions… my friend, a local business woman, ensures her customers are not missing out and still have the option to order cupcakes with a special Friday bake sale. @wonderlust_bakery. They specialise in delicious buttercream/ fresh cream cakes. I hand-painted this
    • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

    We have experienced three different lockdowns with varying time scales and loss of lives. Each lockdown has presented its own issues. The most recent lockdown in winter has affected many significantly as seasonal affective disorders and the shock of more deaths, surpassing 100,000 has taken its toll.

    • What, if any, have been the positives?

    Spending quality time with family, having to live a slower life compared to being on the go pre-lockdown, ability to fast during Ramadan at home, moving away from home to study and knowing that help is out there.

    During the Easter break, I was going to visit one of my close friends in Bristol. However when lockdown restrictions were imposed and many people furloughed, my friend and I discussed how we could use our time to read more and connect through our love for reading. She is writing her very first novel, inspired by Haruki Muraki’s book 1Q84, I look forward to catching up with her in person and hopefully read a sneak peak of her first book!
    • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

    Working on my mental health, continuing to study and graduate as well as working on climate crisis projects.

  3. International Women’s Day: Exploring the Life and Work of Patti Mayor

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    2022 will see the 150th anniversary of Patti Mayor’s birth. To commemorate this, we will be working with Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston and Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool to showcase Mayor’s work throughout 2022. Gallery Oldham will show an exhibition of her work in the autumn of next year. In the second of our blogs about Patti Mayor, MA student Alexandra Cosmé shares more of the story of Mayor’s life. Alexandra is currently studying Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Manchester after her undergraduate degree in History. She is currently on placement at Gallery Oldham as a collections researcher where she is exploring her interests in history and art.

    Mill Girl with a Shawl is one of Gallery Oldham’s most intriguing pieces of art, and yet, we know shockingly little about its artist, Patti Mayor, or its sitter. Here, we will attempt to uncover more details about the work and life of one of the North West’s most important, yet under-appreciated artists of the 19th and 20th Century.

    Mill Girl with a Shawl by Patti Mayor, Gallery Oldham

    Who Was Patti Mayor?

    There aren’t many details available about Patti’s birth, however, we do know that her real name was actually Martha Ann Mayor and she was born in Preston in 1872. She attended Slade School of Fine Art at University College London, one of the UK’s most prestigious art schools at the time. Other alumni include other female painters such as Dora Carrington, sculptor Mary Spencer Watson and even pop singer Charli XCX. After her time there, Patti returned to Preston where she perfected her craft whilst living a very cultured and vibrant lifestyle.

    Patti’s Art

    Patti’s real interest was portraiture and her work rarely strayed away from this. Most of her portraits are of women and young girls, however the sitters are rarely named, adding to the mystery around her work. We are left to wonder: Did she know these women? How intimately? What was the purpose of painting them? Still, we can discern an important pattern in her portraits as most of these women appear to be from a working-class background. Many women in Preston had no choice but to work. The 1901 census returns for Lancashire reveal that girls often went straight from schools to the mills, and many stayed in their positions once they were married.

    The Half-Timer by Patti Mayor, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston

    Some young girls split their time between school and work. Patti’s The Half Timer (1906-8) depicts Annie Hill, a twelve-year-old girl who did exactly that. You’ll notice a similarity between this and the piece in Gallery Oldham’s collection: the shawl. Shawls were worn by working women and were an easy way to spot their occupation. Annie Kenney famously wore shawls on occasion, and this became somewhat of a marketing tactic by the WSPU to show the “inclusivity” of their movement.

    Patti’s Politics

    It’s impossible to talk about Patti Mayor’s art without talking about her politics. Preston was a very politically active area from its trade unions, the Independent Labour Party, to the Suffragettes. One famous Suffragette from Preston is Edith Rigby who established the St. Peter’s School for young working girls and was imprisoned alongside the Pankhursts. However, there were other women who fought for the vote in the North West who rarely get as much historiographical attention. Jill Liddington calls these women the “Radical Suffragists”. They differed from the Suffragettes in that they weren’t militant and they sought a broader programme of reform, extending beyond the vote to issues such as working conditions, maternity pay and childcare facilities for working mothers. Though the contribution by these women to the Suffrage movement has been largely overlooked, living within this hub of political activity must have had some impact on Patti’s work and certainly her view of the world. In 1908, Patti took The Half Timer out of its frame and to the 1908 Women’s Sunday march and rally with the slogan “Preston Lasses Mun Hev the Vote”. Clearly, then, Patti saw her work as a political statement about the lives and capabilities of women and young girls, and notably, their contribution to the UK’s economy.

    We may also discern details about Patti’s politics through her close friendship with Joseph Garstang. Garstang was a committed socialist, atheist and was completely opposed to World War 1, becoming imprisoned for at least two years for his absolutist stance. Patti painted Joseph on several occasions, as well as his family members, before his imprisonment. You can read more about Garstang’s life in this fascinating piece by his great niece, Ann Berry.

    Self Portrait by Patti Mayor, Grundy Art Gallery

    Patti’s Legacy

    Patti died in 1962 whilst living in her sister’s home. She had not married or had children, proving her to be an unconventional twentieth century woman until the very end. She bequeathed a lot of her art to northern museums and galleries, one of which was Gallery Oldham. This International Women’s Day 2021, we remember the countless women like Patti Mayor and her named and unnamed sitters who strove to make the world a better place for us today.

    You can see more of Patti Mayor’s work on Art UK.

    Alexandra Cosmé is on twitter.

  4. Oldham Open exhibition- Speaking to the Artists

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    Young people from the Gallery Oldham Collective catch up with artist, Diana Terry, who is currently showing her work in the Oldham Open 2019.

    What are the titles of the artworks you entered into the Oldham Open 2019?

    Wimberry Rocks and Too Close to Home.

    Can you tell us a bit more about your pieces?

    Wimberry Rocks is oil paint on deep canvas. Too Close to Home is a collagraphic print. Here, a plate is constructed out of mount board using different layers. Then, after sealing the plate, it’s printed through a press. Because each print is inked up differently, it is unique.

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

    The idea behind the print was specifically my response to the moorland wildfires in Saddleworth and Mossley in July 2018. The images on social media and television were mesmerising. The wildfires were a result of climate change which left the moors drier than usual.

    Regarding Wimberry Rocks, I have been producing very large graphite drawings for many years. Several years ago I made some oil sketches specifically about this outcrop at Dovestones. The large canvas has been on the easel for over eighteen months but I haven’t worked on it continuously. It takes thinking time to decide how to progress a large painting. I took the canvas to Dovestones on five occasions working on it for about four hours each time.

    How long did it take to create these artworks?

    Too Close to Home was developed quite quickly at Hot Bed Press because I needed to use their large printing press and I only had the weekend to finish it. As it happens, I went back after I’d done the plate to print five more images.

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

    I’m a culture vulture and soak up images and ideas like a sponge. Recently Paula Rego’s and Joan Eardsley’s generation of female artists have inspired me by their lives as much as their work.

    Are you a full-time artist?


    What made you enter the Oldham Open 2019?

    Gallery Oldham is the best gallery around. The Oldham Open is a real opportunity for people to get involved.

    How do you seek opportunities to exhibit?

    I look for opportunities on Curator Space and Axisweb but Oldham Open doesn’t advertise here as it’s for local people.

    What advice would you give to aspiring artists and creatives?

    I wouldn’t give any advice except watch out for sharks.

    Tell us something fun about yourself, it doesn’t have to be art related?

    I sometimes don’t hear what people say and it causes me to get into trouble all the time!

  5. 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 !

  6. 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.

  7. Oldham Open -Speaking to the artists

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    This week young people from the Gallery Oldham Collective interview Peter Yankowski about his work The Morrigan currently on display in the Oldham Open 2019.

    Can you tell me a bit more about your piece?

    In this painting I primarily use designer gauche, ink and pencil crayon. This image is created in about 5 layers, using latex masking fluid and overlaying paint. This is a style I developed 25 years ago as a textile designer and I have revisited it for the Ancestors Awakening body of artwork.

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

    I like the viewer to add their own interpretation. Some people have sent me interpretive poems and stories connected to my artworks. Within this artwork is a mythical archetype and my narrative of a legend, or short story, for each image. This is the idea or process of thought for The Morrigan. I write down these narratives as the image evolves:
    This is the ninth image in the series, with 9 being a significant number. Whilst creating this image, I was listening to alternative historical theory and audio presentations by Carl Young. Often what I listen to influences what I put within the image. I do not sketch or plan a painting in a sketchbook, but rather I create it in my mind and add to it as it evolves. I had also been listening to Joseph Campbell and his philosophy on myth, mythical philosophy Thoth’s, as well as other work relating to DNA and mythical ancestral history.
    I painted the symbolism in the sky after many visits to Thornborough Henges. Once in the top wooded henge, I could almost imagine the presence of another dimension, especially looking up, into the trees. Also many of the symbols’ within this image are from two to five thousand year old rock art symbolism (petroglyphs), found in the UK and Ireland. The top henge is the best-preserved as not many people visit it due to the trees now growing there. At the time the henges were built, they would have been high with deep ditches. Thornborough is particularly interesting as it corresponds to the layout of the pyramids of Giza and the layout of Orion’s belt in the sky.

    In Celtic mythology, the Irish Goddess, The Morrigan, and her sisters are fascinating. The Morrigan is a safeguard to our real identity, life and the protection of the land and water. The Morrigan is said to awaken as a warrior in times of need to protect the innocent, the land and water. She has the ability to shape-shift into a crow and be a formidable protector of the land.
    In Greek mythology, the god of war, Aries, clouded the hearts and minds of mankind with greed, jealousy, violence, the need to subjugate and an all-consuming wish to end life. But luckily we also have myths and goddesses such as Morrigan, who is an honourable warrior and shape-shifter. In Norse Mythology the Valkyrie is an antidote to war and a symbolic echo of the old ways, which are to protect the land and future generations.

    I like these ancient archetypes, psychology and mythology to be put within the artwork as it enables the viewer to see more within the image.

    How long did it take to create this artwork?

    About 28 days including research time. Sometimes I work several full days on an image then periodically. However, because my income is from being an artist I calculate the time taken to create each image by logging down time. This one took around 220 hours to create, possibly longer. Sometimes I forget to mark down hours spent especially when researching…

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

    Yes, it would be fair to say that many artists have influenced me, over the years. However, I try to develop my own style and avoid mimicking other artists. For instance, my last body of artwork which I worked on for over 5 years was examining conflict and war. Many people told me what I created looked like the Chapman Brothers work, but I intentionally avoided looking at their stuff so it did not hold me back from what I created. I have stopped working in that style now and finished examining conflict. I looked at the Chapmen Brothers creations and bits of my work are similar.

    Are you working as a full-time artist?

    Yes, my income is all from being a full time visual artist, I average between 40 to 60 hours a week researching and creating new artworks.
    For instance, this painting of The Morrigan is from a body of 13 artworks entitled Ancestors awakening. The next stage is entitled ‘The Journey North and for this, I just did a 13 day trip to Orkney to research ancient sites that will influence the new artworks.

    What made you enter the Oldham Open?

    I am from Oldham and the gallery is a beautiful place, also seeing so much local talent adds to a sense of belonging.

    How do you seek out opportunities like the Oldham Open?

    Being a full-time artist, I am often seeking ways to get my artwork seen, as creating a profile as an artist is an important opportunity to make a living and continue to create art. I seek the internet, art magazines, and social media to identify potential for evolving or selling my artworks.

    What advice would you give to aspiring artists?

    I would develop your own visual narrative, work on themes and try over time to create several different bodies of artwork.

    As an artist, financial income is often very low for long periods of time. However, if you stick at it and create public interest in your work, then the potential is limitless, well I trust so. Being an artist is probably the most rewarding work I have ever done. I have been a professional visual artist for around 30 years and for me it is important to diversify and not get stuck with one particular way of creating.

    Could you tell us one interesting fact about yourself? It doesn’t need to be art related.

    I think everything is art, for instance, I am also an activist and photojournalist. I see this as a more realistic way of documenting a visual narrative of events from the front-line, and not from the mainstream press perspective. Capturing a visual narrative from this point is often beautifully expressive, often a very thought-provoking way of being. Well, it empowers me to think in a creative way…

  8. Turn your hand to origami

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    Inspired by our new exhibition On Paper we’ve been having some fun with paper. In the exhibition artists use paper in all kinds of ways, ripping it, burning it and sculpting it, so we decided to have a go at origami.

    Why don’t you join us. All you need to make this origami dog are two square pieces of paper, then just copy what we do! Come down to Gallery Oldham this October half-term, take a look at the exhibition and have a go at crafting your own origami. Don’t forget to share your creations with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, #galleryoldham and @galleryoldham – we’d love to see them.

    We have free family activities linked to our exhibitions taking place on Mon 28, Tues 29 and Wed 30 October from 1 – 4pm over October half-term. There is plenty going on for the kids, so why not call in?

  9. 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.

  10. Take Part

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    Get involved in the arts and volunteer with Oldham Council’s new volunteer maker service!

    Oldham Council is now making it even easier for everyone to volunteer with Oldham’s arts, heritage, libraries and music services.

    ‘Take Part’ is an online space that makes it easy to see what opportunities are on offer for anyone interested in getting involved with arts events or activities in Oldham.

    Whether you have a minute, a couple of hours, or if you’re looking for a more regular volunteering role, there’s something to suit everyone.

    The volunteering opportunities available will be posted as ‘challenges’ and you can ‘complete’ them when it suits you. The challenges can be as easy as tweeting or sharing ideas on social media, taking part in some history research, or helping at one of our many events such as the Illuminate Festival or one of our many exciting performances and concerts.

    Challenges will be updated regularly so if something doesn’t take your fancy right away be sure to re-visit and get involved with something else.

    The website is a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and get valuable experience for developing a career in music, heritage, libraries or arts.

    Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Enterprise, Councillor Sean Fielding, said:

    “We’re always looking for people to get involved in our activities and our ‘Take Part’ website makes it even easier for people to do just that.”

    “I have volunteered in Oldham at various events and I have to say I loved getting stuck in and meeting like-minded people from Oldham.

    “We know volunteering can often be looked at as time consuming, but this website proves that you don’t have to commit a huge amount of time to get involved. It could be as simple as helping at a town centre event for a few hours or engaging with the services on social media.”

    “Oldham has always been a place full of culture and creativity and our arts, library, theatre and music services have been delivering top class events and performances for as long as I can remember.

    “And with the addition of the new OMA building set to open in late 2021, we’re excited to see what the future holds for Oldham’s cultural and arts programme.”


    To sign up to be an Oldham ‘Take Part’ volunteer maker just click here