This summer, Salford Museum & Art Gallery in partnership with the University of Salford Art Collection welcomes artist Rachel Goodyear and her exhibition Stirrings. Originally exhibited in Blackpool’s Grundy Art Gallery in spring, it is the artist’s first major solo show in Salford, where she lives and works with a studio in Islington Mill.
Described by curator Lindsay Taylor as a “kind of homecoming for Rachel”, the show is indeed a long overdue display of an internationally renowned artist who can finally show her stunning drawings closer to home, where she has worked and developed as an artist for 20 years.
Goodyear’s practice is committed to drawing in all of its various guises, whether it’s in the more traditional form of pencil on paper, to more unusual surfaces like bus tickets, envelopes and even combining drawing with pottery. The medium also lends itself to animation which, despite the fluid movement, retains the hand-made quality and celebrates the artist’s touch. Stirrings is a realisation of the artist’s desire to experiment with immersive, larger-scale work.
The subject matter of Goodyear’s drawings focuses around the female figure, at different ages and shrouded in symbols. There are echoes of mythological creatures, wild animals and Dante’s levels of Hell, particularly in the animation Hole (2022), which, referencing our continuous scrolling through social media, takes the form of a never-ending descent. Animal imagery is a recurring motif and the work is punctuated by moments of the uncanny and explorations of the psyche, seemingly drawn directly from the artist’s subconscious. The final pieces are delicate, subtle in their form yet loud in meaning and the multitude of references. They document a universal human experience, yet through a precise, personal lens of the artist’s perspective.
The works on display have been co-commissioned by University of Salford Art Collection and Grundy Art Gallery, allowing the artist to develop an ambitious, bold new body of work, while experimenting with scale and materials. Selected works from the show will also be jointly acquired by the two institutions. It is always a wonderful occasion when local arts institutions celebrate local artists, and Rachel Goodyear’s work is most certainly worth celebrating and exploring in depth. With its multi-layered symbolism, obvious aesthetic appeal and the artist’s incredible skill, the show is indeed a beautiful homecoming.