Gallery Oldham has four large exhibition spaces plus a community gallery.
We take an innovative and unique approach to exhibition programming, bringing together what were once separate museum and gallery services.
Our programming incorporates Oldham’s extensive art, social and natural history collections alongside touring work, newly commissioned and contemporary art, international art and work produced with local communities.
In addition we have permanent displays around the building.
Gallery 1 – Oldham Stories
This gallery permanently houses both:
Oldham Stories exhibition, featuring selected objects from our extensive collections to tell and show the stories of Oldham and its local communities. From birds and shells to a recreation of an Edwardian chemist’s shop, every object has a fascinating tale to tell. The display features local figures such as suffragette Annie Kenny, the pioneering natural history collector James Nield and the popular artist Helen Bradley.
We continue to update this permanent exhibition so Oldham Stories will close for two weeks on 13 March for a major refresh. We re-open on 25 March with a new selection of stories and objects.
The Community Gallery, which has a wide range of exhibitions by groups and individuals from the Borough of Oldham.
Gallery 2 – MESH 3D Printed Sculpture
MESH is the UK’s first national exhibition of three dimensional, printed Fine Art sculpture. It features six of the leading British artists who work with pioneering techniques in 3D print.
The exhibition includes acclaimed existing works and newly commissioned sculptures using the latest 3D print technology, including full colour and multi material 3D print process. MESH showcases work by artist Keith Brown, Annie Cattrell, Bruce Gernard, James Hutchinson, Jon Isherwood and Sumit Sarkar.
Exhibiting artist and exhibition curator Sumit Sarkar will lead a tour of the exhibition on Wednesday 15 March at 2pm.
Gallery 3 – The Big Big Camera
21 January – 22 April
The extraordinary ‘Big Big Camera’ has long been in the collections of Gallery Oldham. Over the last two years artist and photographer Ian Beesley has been working to repurpose this industrial relic. This exhibition of new photographs charts his journey to reuse the camera and take it out on the road.
This camera was originally housed at Rome Mill in Springhead, where it was used by a company manufacturing wallpaper. Large process cameras were made specifically for the printing industry and consequently once installed were rarely moved again. However Ian Beesley was determined to take it on tour.
After cleaning and repairing the camera the most important challenge for Ian was using a camera that was designed for huge negatives 20 inches square. His solution was to create a grid which could take smaller negatives resulting in images made up of 20 separate prints. The result is this exhibition of large scale photographs that will make you think again about the whole process of taking a picture.
Gallery 4 – Watercolours from the Lees Collection
19 November – 15 April
Charles Lees was a key figure in the founding of the original Oldham Library and Art Gallery in 1883.
In 1888 Lees donated an outstanding collection of 80 watercolours to the Gallery. This overview of a century of watercolours includes names such as Turner, Constable, Cozens, Danby and many more.
We show a small selection of the Lees collection each year in Oldham Stories, but it is rare that it is on display in its entirety. Like all watercolours, these paintings are light sensitive, so we limit the amount of time for which they are on display.
Trendspotting: 80 years of gifts from the Contemporary Art Society
29 April – July
Gallery Oldham has been a member of the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) since the 1930s. The CAS is a charity which makes regular donations of contemporary art to public museums in the UK. We have received gifts at regular intervals over the last 80 years. This series of donations provides us with a fascinating snapshot of the changing tastes of those in the art world.