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Contemporary Art Exhibitions

Liam Spencer: Irwell: Afterlife

The river Irwell was once the hardest working and filthiest river in the world. Now it is an invaluable wildlife corridor within reach of thousands of people.

This exhibition will explore the Irwell and its valley, from its source in Rossendale to its final destination at Salford Quays and the Manchester Ship Canal. Paintings, drawings, photographs and film will reveal its post-industrial landscapes and the wildlife which thrives there, often discreet and hidden from view.

The Irwell’s recovery over recent decades has been astonishing. Trout, kingfishers and perhaps most impressively otters, are now present all the way from Rossendale to Salford. At a time when nature is under increasing pressure and bad news dominates the environmental agenda, the Irwell provides an inspiring story of rebirth and hope for the future.
  • Dates
    Thursday 22nd December 2022 – Sunday 19th February 2023
  • Tickets

    Free.

    Join us for the opening on Thursday 22 December at 7pm – no need to book, just come along.

Liam Spencer was born in Burnley in 1964, and studied Fine Art at Manchester Polytechnic, graduating in 1986.

Known for his vivid portrayals of urban landscapes, particularly of Manchester, he came to prominence with a solo exhibition at the newly opened Lowry arts centre in 2000. Since that time, he has exhibited widely, most notably a retrospective at Manchester Art Gallery in 2006 and his paintings have been collected avidly. In 2005 he was the subject of a 30-minute documentary on the BBC.

His recent work is increasingly concerned with nature, and how wildlife has repopulated our post-industrial landscapes. He exhibits regularly in the Northwest and beyond, and his work can be seen in several public collections, including Manchester City Art Galleries, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Touchstones Rochdale, Towneley Hall Museum and Art Gallery in Burnley and the Whitaker in Rawtenstall.

Additional notes:

  • Recommended age group is for guidance only if you have any questions on suitability please speak to one of our team members or email learning@thewhitaker.org
  • All activities are fully inclusive, please contact our team on learning@thewhitaker.org if you have any specific questions on accessibility
  • Unless otherwise stated, for family workshops you only need to book a ticket for each child attending. Accompanying adult is free
  • Activities can be booked via our website or by visiting our Welcome Desk
  • Whilst some activities are offered free due to our current funding from ACE and HLF, we have introduced ‘pay what you can’ for some events with a suggested donation. We appreciate donations to ensure we can keep activities running in the future
  • Our events cancellation policy can be accessed here.

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