Currently on display in the atrium of Manchester Art Gallery is Valette’s 20th Century painting of Manchester titled Albert Square. And now, thanks to a successful crowd funding campaign Emily Allchurch’s contemporary recreation of Valette’s work, Albert Square, Manchester (after Valette) hangs opposite. Using digital editing techniques Emily Allchurch has created a composite image of hundreds of photographs echoing Valette’s painting but from a 21st century aspect.
Our guest blogger Jess Mallard headed over to Manchester Art Gallery to interview Emily Allchurch and to get a sneak peek of her exhibition, In the Footsteps of a Master, before it opened to the general public.
“When I first met Emily she was jittery, explaining how she was nervous because the light boxes for her exhibition were about to be turned on, but she chatted with me about her exhibition in the hope that it would take her mind off any possible technical hitches. After the interview I managed to get a sneak peek of Albert Square, Manchester (after Valette) whilst it was being installed. It was eerily like dusk in the room, then as the lights turned on Emily shrieked in relief as the work lit up and transformed into something that cannot be captured via Google image – you must experience it for yourself.”
Manchester Art Gallery offered to exhibit your Tokyo Stories collection and you decided to create a Manchester piece inspired by the Valette, how did you then go about putting the piece together?
So first I traveled here and went into the city and took lots of pictures, using the original as a guide but building my own narrative. It’s an intense couple of days, but I love that feeling of being an observer. Then back at the studio it’s a selection process deciding what makes the final composition.
Do you just enjoy making connections to the past or do you hope that ‘updating’ historical artworks might engage a wider audience with art history?
There’s a spirituality to standing where an artist stood and seeing what he saw, but that’s definitely my intention. The originals still have a relevance, and I hope that I can assist in what it says. Yes I add contemporary motifs but hopefully it gets them to look back at the original and notice that, actually, what we’re commenting on is not that different!
You set up #tellemily on twitter for people to let you know what they loved about Manchester, how much influence did this have?
As the piece is crowd funded, I was very mindful that I represented it right. The hashtag gave me a sense of what Manchester means to people, there was a real civic pride and the music scene was a big thing!
I can believe that! How did this love of the music scene translate to your work?
It’s subtle, but there are flyers for Band on the Wall and “The Factory” in it, on the floor and on taxis etc.
I know those places well! Is social media something you’d use again and advise other artists to use?
I’m a reluctant social media user but I see the value! Crowd funding should definitely be taken seriously as a way of getting projects up and running and social media helps.
Manchester Revisited will be on permanent display at Manchester Art Gallery and you can catch Emily Allchurch’s Tokyo Stories exhibition until June 8 2015.
Jessica Mallard is currently studying Fine Art and Art History at Manchester School of Art, and hopes to forge a career combining her love of art, travel and writing in the future. If you are interested in guest blogging for Fred Aldous, email us here.