In London they might have art galleries with black business cards scattered on the floor but Up North we have proper galleries with proper pictures. Real Art.
The nineteenth century saw the rapid growth and booming prosperity of Pennine textile towns like Burnley, Oldham, Bradford, Halifax and Bury. The mill owners might have exploited their workers by paying paltry wages and providing cheap slum housing but rather ironically they could also be generous civic benefactors, investing in parks, hospitals, transport links and art galleries.
Much great art was brought to northern England towards the end of the nineteenth century to be displayed proudly for the edification of townsfolk. And despite the best efforts of the Luftwaffe, much of that fine Art remains here, invariably housed in magnificent Victorian buildings.
|Bury Art Museum - picture from Bury Art Society website|
On Saturday in Bury, I made a point of visiting the town's lovely Art Museum. One of the main rooms was devoted to a display of works by members of Bury Art Society. In the next two galleries you could see some of the legacy of the town's industrial past - pictures that were bought with profits derived from the labours of spinners, weavers, dyers and bleachers. But those pictures did not concern themselves with the reality of working life in the valley of The River Irwell. Instead they took onlookers away to far more exotic places than Bury. A kind of cultural escapism.
Apart from the staff and some people preparing for a drawing class, I was the Art Museum's only visitor at midday on Saturday and so I had the town's magnificent Art to myself. Here is a little more of what I saw:-
|Calais Sands at Low Water: Poissards Collecting Bait|
by J.M.W. Turner (1830)
|The Random Shot|
by Sir Edin Landseer (1848)
|Moor at Prayer |
by Ludwig Deutsch (1898)