Salford Museum and Art Gallery sits atop the famed Peel Park which is itself well worth visiting. My friends and I went here as our first stop in what was to be a jam packed Friday. See below my personal highlights.
Somehow the museum managed to re-create a street in late 19th Century Salford. This was a show stopping triumph for me. Going down the cobbled street (which smelled much better than it must have done at the time) and being able to look into a dozen different shop and home fronts was wonderful. I felt like a child discovering something wonderful. See above a brief shot of what to expect.
The Gambler by Christian Ludwig Bokelmann (1844–1894) was one of the highlights of the gallery for me. This struck me in its sentiments which seem to be anti-gambling. You see a smokey room with a young father clinging onto his betting slip, not taking notice that he has knocked over his pint. His probably wife is holding one of their progeny while the other, horrifyingly, is playing cards on the floor – seeming to get into her father’s nasty habit. The father is so engrossed in his habit that he fails to hear the dogs fighting in the background, indeed this blissful ignorance is shared by his floored daughter, seeming to echo the concern that her father’s habit can extend to children. Finally, the gang of old men in the background seems to point to what this gambler will become. In addition to being technically excellent, the sentiments behind this painting are clear and damning. A powerful painting.
Ship on Fire was the second piece in the gallery which struck me. I love ships at sea and I love motion. This is a dynamic combination of both. The ship on fire itself is not the main focus of this piece, the main focus is those escaping from it. This distinction is important. The spray on the top of the waves, the motion and the light are, combined, very powerful in denoting the chaos which ensued following the fire. What is particularly potent for me is being able to see what is under the water as well as above. The light from the sky illuminates hints of bodies beneath the water and parts of the ship. This for me is beautifully rendered and a powerful depiction of a frightful scene.
Sadly the Lowry at Salford Quays was closed at the time of our visit but I did get to see a few Lowrys (or is it Lowries?). Peel Park’s bandstand was the subject of many depictions but this one was my favourite. There is something haunting to me about Lowry’s works, they seem to be hinting at something deeper. The looming buildings behind the park, one of which I believe now houses the Salford Museum and Art Gallery, are almost sinister.
There are a great number of drag queens in Manchester and one of the more famed ones is Cheddar Gorgeous. I have been a fan of Cheddar’s for some years, following them on instagram when I had the misfortune of being a member of this application. Cheddar is described as a “gender divergent drag artist, producer and self-confessed unicorn-idealist”. I’m not sure whether I am able or willing to go further into that. However, seeing a piece of drag art close up was quite a moving feat for me. Often I see these through the medium of television or on You Tube but seldom up close. The dress was constructed well and fit within the fantasy that Cheddar created following research into a local fable.
Overall this museum was an excellent use of time, was supremely economical (free admission) and fulfilling. It was likely one of the highlights of my trip.