Many art galleries lay claim to quirky credentials, with exhibitions in subterranean vaults and tunnels, old toilet blocks and disused police stations. But one Manchester gallery, aptly named The Back Gallery, is bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘street art’ – with an exhibition in the back street alleys (or ‘ginnels’ for those who are local) of Old Trafford.
The Back Gallery is a collection of art works displayed in the alleys between Stamford Street and Albion Street, and Albion Street and Premier Street, both behind Ayres Road. The brainchild of OT Creative Space, the gallery currently displays 125 works of art submitted by 80 artists – a mix of professional artists and local residents of all ages – curated into 13 different collections across the alleys.
The founder of OT Creative Space, Lynda Sterling, came up with the idea for the Back Gallery in 2015 to combat fly tipping and anti-social behaviour. “We wanted to make the alleyways of Old Trafford a welcome space where the community can come together to view great artwork,” she said.
Lynda Sterling added: “Feedback from residents is overwhelmingly positive. The gallery really brightens up the area, makes it look cared for and makes it interesting to wander down the back alleys to see what people have created. It’s very inspiring. And artwork, unlike plants, needs less ongoing care and looks great in winter too!”
The works on display in The Back Gallery have been printed onto vinyl and mounted on the brick walls of the back alleys. The original artworks – some of which are on display in the window of OT Creative Space on Ayres Road – feature a wide range of styles and mediums, including watercolours, prints, acrylic on canvas, digital art, photography, embroidery and even cardboard sculptures.
Matthew Smith is one of the local residents whose artwork is on display and says the exhibition “relaxes people when they can see all the photos of everyone’s work in the gallery.” Stacey Newman, a professional artist whose work was chosen for the unusual gallery space, said: “It’s been a fun-filled opportunity to be part of a community exhibition and I love seeing everyone’s creative minds at work.”
And, for gallery viewers who are inspired to get creative, there are free, family friendly art workshops held in The Back Gallery on the first Saturday of every month, with the chance of the art created during the sessions displayed in the gallery. The project started with just three artboards and OT Creative Space will continue to keep adding more.
“The workshops are a great place for people to come together to create all sorts of different art, often using recycled and donated materials. Everyone is welcome, regardless of ability. Just be sure to dress for the weather!” said Lynda Sterling.
All artworks on display in the Back Gallery are available to view on the OT Creative Space website.
Find The Back Gallery behind OT Creative Space, 27 Ayres Road, Old Trafford, M16 9WA.