The opening of The People’s River public exhibition by Manchester Histories sees text, poetry pieces, photography and cyanotype prints come together in a final showcase that culminates the aim of the project – to share local stories from the community who live and work along the River Irk.
Inspired by Friedrich Engels’ writings on the River Irk in The Conditions of the Working Class in England, artist Liz Wewiora was commissioned to produce group-work with Friends of Angel Meadows, HMG Paints Ltd, No. 93 Wellbeing Centre, Many Hands Craft Collective and Collyhurst Big Local. The exhibition shares hidden histories of the Irk Valley, which runs from Angel Meadows to Collyhurst and Harpurhey.
The river itself, taken as the stemming point for the project, inspired a series of photographs which document the changes happening in the surrounding landscape, people-scape and architecture. The cyanotype prints were created from these photographs using a special chemical process that reacts to sunlight. With work on display across its three sites, Queens Park, Angel Meadow Park and the No. 93 Wellbeing Centre, the importance of documenting environmental change rings round.
There is a walking trail, available via the Love Exploring App, that resonates with a similar message, using nature itself to expand and bring the message of shift and adjustment in what surrounds us culturally, closer to home. Taking the time to walk the full designated trail will achieve a comprehensive, detailed and crucially new take on a distinct part of local history which is both analytical and artistic in its approach.
The free public exhibition will be open from until 20 June, while the walking trail will continue to be available to download as a legacy for the project.