A map of memories and hopes for the future has been created by a group of residents in Collyhurst.
Tales of tough mill work, village boxing matches and eating rabbit stew have been gathered by artist Jim Loftus, who has been working with people living at Churnet Street Sheltered Housing. Their work, presented as a replica OS map, includes photographs, stories and mementoes. It forms part of a free Art Treasures community display at North City Library from 12 October to 14 December.
Most of those taking part in the Churnet Street project have lived in the area all their lives. Bill Stephenson, in his seventies, was born and brought up in Collyhurst. He says that while there had been many improvements in the area, he misses terraced housing. "We should build houses with streets, this creates a chain of neighbours helping each other." He and his five brothers and sisters lived in a two up two down and his mother worked in cotton mills nearby. He remembers the days when differing gangs got together on local waste ground for boxing matches...often the young unmarried men against the married ones. Frances Heavey recalls the dripping on toast and rabbit stew which were their staple fare: "My father worked at Thomson street railway station and I think that's where the rabbits came from!"
Both the Collyhurst residents' artwork and the Art Treasures community display are the result of a Manchester Art Gallery community project, which is running alongside the gallery's current exhibition, Art Treasures in Manchester: 150 years on. The exhibition, which opened on Saturday 6 October, tells the story of the largest art show ever to have been staged in the UK, held here in Manchester in 1857.
Inspired by the achievement and history of the original exhibition of 1857, nine groups from across the city have been working with artists and Manchester Art Gallery staff to explore aspects of their individual and community heritage. Community displays documenting the projects will be exhibited in Collyhurst, Rusholme and Wythenshawe, before a selection of the works move to Manchester Art Gallery in January 2008.
Audrey Nevin, a participant from Collyhurst says she really enjoyed the art project: " Just because you're getting older people think you can't think, but my brain works full blast! If I can learn new things then anyone can."
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Assistant Executive Member for Arts and Leisure, said: "The Art Treasures exhibition of 1857 was a remarkable event and a huge achievement for Manchester. 150 years on, Manchester Art Gallery's exhibition provides an engaging platform for exploring the wider history of the city and its communities. This local display and the major exhibition both explore the heritage of Manchester and its people, they are a superb illustration of the ways individuals create and nurture the city's enduring spirit and ambition."
Dawn Bryan, tel: 07958 581 365
Jenny Beard, tel: 0161 235 8864