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 – Ann Sutton: On The Grid
17 December – 4 March
Ann Sutton’s career spans over fifty years. As one of the most distinguished and cutting edge textile
artists in the 1960s and 70s, she explored this medium so extensively that she felt a strong desire to experiment with new techniques and discover ways of working.
Recently Ann has worked with drawing and the movement of the line, often venturing into making three dimensional pieces. Here she has been able to combine her experience and experiments in weaving a textile design, and push the boundaries of her practice.
Ann’s most recent body of work has been produced over the past two years and forms the basis of this exciting new exhibition. Celebrating this new phase in Ann’s work the exhibition has been jointly curated by Gill Hedley, Gallery Oldham and The Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent.
Gallery 3 – The Big Big Camera
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.
MESH: 3D Printed Sculpture
11 March – 3 June
MESH is the UK’s first national exhibition of three dimensional, printed Fine Art sculpture. The exhibition includes acclaimed exsisting works and newly commissioned sculptures use the latest 3D print technology. MESH showcases work by artists Keith Brown, Annie Cattrell, Bruce Gernand, James Hutchinson, Jon Isherwood and Sumit Sarkar.
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.