Older people make up a large part of the gallery's audience and we value their input and the support they give to the gallery. This is reflected in our community projects with groups of older people, all of which are designed in collaboration with the participants and many of which have resulted in artworks of very high quality. See below for past projects with groups of older people.
"Participating in a project at the gallery is very beneficial to us as old people for our health and our spirit. We can come out of our house and do something and contribute to something in the gallery. We feel more fulfilled in life and have something to look forward to."
Wai Yin Chinese Women's Society participant
If you belong to a community group in Manchester and you’d like to find out more about community projects at Manchester Art Gallery, contact Ruth Edson or Helena Lee on:
Being a non-believer, my whole way of looking at art has changed. It’s been a huge success for me. William
Unpicking Contemporary Art is a six-week programme for older adults, which aims to help people
Manchester Art Gallery ran a pilot programme in November and December 2012, in partnership with Studio One; a health and wellbeing creative provision, which is part of the MHSC NHS Trust in Wythenshawe, Manchester. Ten members of Studio One aged 50-75, attended the gallery each week for six weeks.
The course included a fast, fun and interactive introduction to the ‘isms’ of the last century with gallery curator Kate Jesson. The two following sessions were led by author and DJ Dave Haslem responding to themes within the exhibition Dreams without Frontiers and three final sessions involved artists Naomi Kendrick and Nicola Dale, using The First Cut exhibition as a starting point for experimenting with paper.
Dreams without Frontiers (May 2012- May 2013) features the work of two artists; a mixed-media installation by New York based Kelley Walker and a short film The Smithsons by Paris-born and Berlin based artist Cyprien Gaillard. Dave introduced eleven themes presented overty or covertly in the exhibition ranging from Sixties Utopia and High Rise Living to Manchester 2018. Members of the groups were invited to write a response to the themes and some of these were included in a book of essays exploring ideas related to Dreams without Frontiers, which is now available in the exhibition.
The First Cut (Oct 2012 – Jan 2013) featured 31 international artists who cut, sculpt and manipulate paper and transform this humble material into fantastical works of art. Flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps appear alongside artworks that feature dark fairytale imagery. Guns and grenades fashioned from paper currency and sinister silhouettes comment on social, political and economic issues. Multi sensory artist, Naomi Kendrick encouraged the group to respond to the exhibition by responding creatively the word ‘cut’ and The First Cut artist, Nicola Dale introduced her work in the exhibition and inspired the participants to make their own book artworks.
'One of things that has worked well is when someone explains something, it triggers off things in my head and then it means a lot more to you. I’ve encouraged others to come to the gallery. I’ve been thoroughly enthused by it' Brian
'I was pleasantly surprised by the Visitor Services staff joining in our discussion in the gallery after the group had finished. He didn’t know the answer so he went off to find out and came back with the answer' Pauline
It’s such a shame that this has come to an end. It’s so compulsive. It’s important to do an intro to contemporary art again for people. It’s opened my eyes. We’ve carried on the conversation after the session every week.' William
Personal stories and interpretations of our Chinese collections by Chinese people living in Manchester.
Elders from the Wai-Yin Chinese Women’s Society explored Manchester Art Gallery’s collection of Chinese artefacts and wrote their own interpretations about the objects. This project resulted in a display in the Gallery of Craft & Design of the objects and text written by the group between 2004 and 2010.
Project partners: Wai Yin Chinese Women’s Society
Members from Wai Yin Chinese Women’s Society Elders group worked together with ceramic artist Steve Dixon to create a sculpture of a Dragon Boat. The aim was to create a work of art that expressed pride in Chinese culture by heralding the rich history of ceramic art in China and reflecting the cultural and physical journey from China to Manchester. The Dragon Boat was on display in the Pride section of the Manchester Gallery between 2004 and 2011.
Project partners: Wai Yin Chinese Women’s Society
Funding: Co-operative Insurance Society
Members of Sheung Lok: Wai Yin Women's Society elderly luncheon club worked with Manchester Art Gallery and textile artist Nina Chua. Together they created a dress, which commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Wai Yin. The garment is inspired by the achievements of Wai Yin over the past 20 years and Manchester City Galleries Chinese decorative arts and costume collection. The dress was on display in the Manchester Gallery between 2009 and 2011.
Project partners: Wai Yin Chinese Women's Society
Funding: Working Neighbourhood Fund, Arts Council England
Image © Manchester City Galleries
Stories of inspirational people.
Five members of the local African Caribbean communities shared their stories of people who have inspired them. Drawing on the themes of heroes as explored in the Black Victorians exhibition, a film and display of personal objects that related to the exhibition were developed to create a contemporary record of black British heritage for future generations. These were incorporated into the exhibition from October 2005 to January 2006. The film was on display in the Manchester Gallery between 2005 and 2010.
Image © Andy Lawrence
Project partners: Urban Voice
Funding: Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Co-operative Insurance Society
Exploring stereotypes and misconceptions with Age Concern’s Lesbian and Gay Social Group ‘Out in the City’.
Members of Age Concern’s Lesbian and Gay Social Group ‘Out in the City’ explored pre- and misconceptions in portraiture. They developed their own personal portraits by working with visual artist Jane McIver and photographer Ray Chan. A display of the portraits were shown in the Manchester Gallery during LGBT History Month in February 2006 and was also part of Pride 2006.
Image © Ray Chan
Project partner: Age Concern Manchester
Funding: Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Co-operative Insurance Society, Age Concern
Four animations inspired by our collection of Pilkington's pottery and informed by the participants' memories and experiences.
Members of LMCP Care Link (a support group for carers) and Wai Yin Chinese Women Society's older people's group workied with artist Tamzin Forster to produce four animated films.
They were inspired by themes from nature and Aesop’s fable, The Fox and the Grapes, found on Pilkington’s pottery and tiles. These prompted reminiscences of childhood, home and storytelling.
"These sessions have reminded me of my childhood – some hidden things in myself have come out."
"It's been a good experience making animation and we’ve found its not as difficult as it sounds to make animation."
These animations, along with the pottery and tiles that inspired them, were on display in the exhibition Exporting Beauty (Saturday 9 October 2010 - Sunday 9 October 2011).
People from Collyhurst and Harpurhey, Rusholme and Wythenshawe create artwork inspired by the Art Treasures exhibition and the history of their local area.
Inspired by the content of the Art Treasures exhibition, nine groups of local people from Wythenshawe, Rusholme, Harpurhey and Collyhurst developed their own artwork celebrating their individual and community heritage over the past 150 years.
The fruits of this programme were exhibited in four unique exhibitions between October 07 and April 08.
Project partners: NCH Foundations, Churnet Street Sheltered Housing, The Addy Young People's Centre, Family Action Benchill, Tree of Life, Crescent Community High School for Girls, Birch Community Centre, Wythenshawe Forum, North City Library, Platt Fields Lakeside Centre.
Funding: Heritage Lottery Fund, Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.
Image © Manchester City Galleries
The Mary Greg collection was fantastic. It gets lonely when you get older and this has been the most meaningful conversation I've had for a long time. Miles Platting Age Concern Member
If you belong to a community group in Manchester and you’d like to find out more about community projects at Manchester Art Gallery, contact Helena Lee or Ruth Edson:
For a full list of projects, see the links on the left.
In 2011 and 2012, we delivered three pilot projects with George Halstead Court, Age Concern Miles Platting and the Manchester Nigerian Women's Group looking at the Mary Greg handling collection and what we collect and why. The 4-week projects explored how Manchester Art Gallery can use the Mary Greg handling collection with older people’s groups in Manchester.
Mary Greg was a compulsive collector who could not resist the curious and bizarre. She collected thousands of diverse objects during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s including basket ware, keys, thimbles and even stuffed frogs. She donated her large collection to the gallery in the 1930’s and even though there are many objects on display, there are also many in the store. The Mary Greg handling collection has been developed to provide children and adults with the opportunity to handle many of Mary’s objects.
The three pilot projects were a great success and we are rolling out this offer to other older adult groups in Manchester. We can bring the Mary Greg collection of curiosities to you.
To find out more, please contact Ruth Edson:
Tel: 0161 2358877
Free English conversation classes at Manchester Art Gallery. Every second Wednesday of the month 1-2.30 pm and at Thursday Lates on the third Thursday of each month 6.30-8 pm. Free. no need to book, just turn up.