Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery has glimpses of the future of Touchstones

Date published: 22 June 2022

Your Trust officers gave glimpses of the future to members of FRAG (Friends of Rochdale Art Gallery) at their June meeting, with fascinating insights into the inner workings of the galleries.

Firstly, curator Bryan Beresford introduced an upcoming set of exhibitions for October by the celebrated American artist Liz Collins. Her aims of ‘creating spaces and engagement’ and working with under-represented groups, chime well with Rochdale’s vision.

Her vast range of work will cover all four galleries: 1 - archival, 2 - materials and objects and how they affect spaces, 3 - events including local groups co-curating the space, and 4 - textiles in both large and small manifestations, an area for which she is best known. Coming from the States is just one of many logistical challenges and conversations ahead.

Secondly, Mark Doyle, Head of Culture, Engagement and Heritage outlined exciting possibilities arising from a recent successful bid to the Culture Development Fund of the Arts Council. He explained that change was due, that the Touchstones building needed a new lease of life with more flexibility and usage needs.

There need not be much change to the first-floor gallery spaces, apart from upgrading walls, lighting and environmental refinements. The ground floor could be re-structured as two wings either side of a revised central reception-shop area. The ‘colleges side’ wing could be devoted to creative learning, with education and studio spaces. The ‘memorial gardens side’ wing could be stripped back and accommodate a mezzanine level, allowing for both commercial and creative integrated collections and dining areas, including a 100-seat theatre space.

FRAG meets on the second Thursday of the month, usually at Touchstones to hear a guest speaker from 1.30pm - 2.30pm. Members £3, Non-members £4 on the door.

All welcome. Annual membership only £10 and you will be supporting your local art gallery and get discounted rates on talks and trips organised by the Friends and invitations to private views for exhibitions.

For further details please contact Jenny Buckley (Chair, FRAG) on 01706 358686 or Mark Doyle on 01706 924555.

Dr Joe Dawson

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