Art for All: Thomas Horsfall’s Gift to Manchester

Elizabeth Redgrave, White Goosefoot and Grayling butterfly, 1806-89Great Tit watercolourManchester Art Museum
  • Friday 7 June 2013 - Sunday 8 June 2014
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • FREE

‘If we have a strong love of beauty, the most beautiful things we see become part of ourselves.’

Thomas Horsfall, The Study of Beauty, 1883

This display explores a selection of nature-themed artworks and objects from the city’s little-known Thomas Horsfall collection. It is co-curated by local school children from St Augustine’s CE Primary School in Harpurhey, Manchester.

Thomas Coglan Horsfall (1844-1932) was a remarkable philanthropist and pioneer of art gallery education from Manchester. He collected over 1700 objects and artworks for his groundbreaking Manchester Art Museum, which he set up in 1884.*

The 60 artworks chosen from Horsfall’s art collection include birds, botanical and garden drawings and watercolours. Highlights include two rarely seen watercolours by Ruskin, as well as chalk studies by Ford Madox Brown and Rossetti. Mostly delicate works on paper, many of the pieces are on display for the first time in 60 years.

The exhibition also features a film and artworks created by the school children in collaboration with local artist Pat Mountford, film maker Jess Wild and sound designer Dan Beesley.

The exhibition is the result of a project between Manchester Art Gallery and St Augustine's CE Primary School - funded in part by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund - and is based around Horsfall's art collection, celebrating his dedication to educating children through art, and aiming to connect young people today with the natural world in their local surroundings.

Children involved in the project said:

“I have really enjoyed discovering how artists find their inspiration. This project has shown me there is so much more to see especially when I look at nature, which I love to look at everyday now.”
Frederick Ogbonna, age 10

“We have been lucky to see so many excellent paintings. Working with people from the gallery, we have put them together to help others look at them in different ways. It’s exciting to show our own artwork and film, it will let visitors see how the paintings make us feel.”
Leah Byrne, age 10

Elizabeth Redgrave, White Goosefoot and Grayling butterfly

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Curators blog

Wiliam Morris fabric detail
Find out more about the behind the scenes work in developing the Horsfall exhibition.

Ancoats in the 19th Century

Manchester Art Museum
View a selection of photographs of Ancoats in the 19th Century from Manchester Archives.