A fresh look for a Wigan arts and culture hub will see it explore global social issues such as climate change and equality.
Four new sections of ‘The Fire Within’ will be open to the public from Saturday 2 November under the theme ‘Love is a Rebellious Bird’, which brings together activists, poets and artists from across the region to share new perspectives on the world.
The exhibition space is located in The Galleries shopping centre and is the focal point of Wigan Borough’s five-year cultural strategy.
Having opened earlier this year, installations, artwork and performances at The Fire Within, overseen by curators and internationally renowned artists Al Holmes and Al Taylor, have attracted national recognition.
Coun Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities and culture said: “The success of The Fire Within has been incredible.
“We’ve had such positive feedback from residents, visitors and influential figures such as Darren Henley, CEO of the Arts Council.
“We have more ambitious plans for the launch of the manifesto’s second year next May, but it is important that the space remains up-to-date, current and innovative in the meantime. The new exhibition is even more refreshing it has been created by a mostly-female collection of artists.
“We want to keep momentum going and are excited about working with our future artists to explore the themes that are outlined in the manifesto.”
The Fire Within plan outlines the local authority’s ambitions to position the borough as a culturally thriving district in the North West, following being named among the worst places in the UK in terms of cultural engagement.
The plan celebrates the town’s magnificent heritage and connects the creative community with residents who may not otherwise engage with the arts.
Al and Al said: “This is an extraordinary and innovative moment for Wigan. Love is a Rebellious Bird celebrates and ignites The Fire Within all of us. Wigan empowers and inspires people to produce social justice through the culture it makes.
“The four new exhibition spaces take visitors on a breath-taking journey from the tender, precarious moment we are born to the hour of our death. Ghislaine Howard’s intimate, exquisite paintings capture her own family’s journey through life.
“Exploring the amazing work at the exhibition you will witness the emotional events, experiences and dreams which drive the artists passions and desires to shape and make a better world for each other. This exhibition has been created in the spirit of love and rebellion.”
The four units currently under construction have been closed to the public since the beginning of September while the transformation takes place.
The changeover is in line with the council’s commitment to investing in the borough’s cultural offer and bringing communities together through inspirational events.
Love is a Rebellious Bird will open to the public on Saturday 2 November, 11am-3pm.
Coun Ready: “We understand the importance that this work will have on residents’ health and wellbeing and on strengthening our attractiveness to employers and visitors.
“We are committed to inspiring the future generation and look forward to the reopening next month.”
To view the manifesto online, please visit www.thefirewithin.org.uk.
To keep updated with the progress of the refresh, and to find out what activities are taking place in HQ, follow The Fire Within Wigan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photos: Simulations of the new spaces
Artists included in the new exhibitions include: Ghislaine Howard, Louise Fazackerley, Mary Griffiths, Jane Fairhurst, Livia Lazar, AL + AL,
Liz Chapman, Klaire Doyle, Anne Louise Kershaw, Claire Barber, Callum Clint, Lee McStein.
Ghislaine Howard takes us on a journey from the moment we are born with her breath-taking paintings.
Klaire Doyle stages her historical portraits of a mother’s breastfeeding.
Re-birth room:Ghislaine Howard studies the final steps of her mother as she suffers from Parkinsons Disease. In juxtaposition, her latest work captures the rapture and new hope experienced from the birth of her first grandchild.
In her spellbinding examination of female archetypes Louise Fazackerley’s new prose poetry performance searches for a futuristic feminist perspective to empower her own daughter’s adolescent dreams growing up in a #MeToo world.
Wigan’s own pioneering artist and activist, Jane Fairhurst, freefalls into the space with her Hokusia inspired series of paintings showcasing her pertinent environmental message.
Photogrammetrist Lee McStein captures and resurrects a precious Ancient Egyptian Ba Bird from Mrs Goodison’s treasured collection and Al and Al will showcase a film starring their eight year old niece and her grandmother on a soul journey together.