Wigan arts group unveils show for our times at town centre culture hub

Jane Fairhurst in the exhibition Unto This Last
Jane Fairhurst in the exhibition Unto This Last

An arts organisation from the borough is going back in time to look forward in its contribution to one of the year’s biggest arts events.

That is because Unto This Last, the new exhibition by Cross Street Arts which will be displayed for Wigan Arts Festival, uses a controversial work by Victorian author John Ruskin as a vehicle for exploring what is going on today and where society might be heading.

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The title of the exhibition, which is at The Old Courts, comes from a work Ruskin wrote which caused a major stir when he published it because of how critical he was of the economic system of the times.

However, 16 artists from the Standish-based organisation have used his words as the basis for their own creative pieces exploring how they think Ruskin’s ideas have lost none of their relevance a century or so later.

Jane Fairhurst from Cross Street Arts said: “In its day the book was highly controversial as it criticised capitalism and its harmful effects on the environment, an appropriate subject for our times.

“The show includes drawings, paintings, textiles, calligraphy, prints, collages, sculptures and installation and will be the first of many events around the country commemorating the bi-centenary of Ruskin’s birth.”

The exhibition opens this week and runs throughout Wigan Arts Festival, which is one of the highlights of the borough’s cultural calendar with a host of theatre performances, music gigs, art exhibitions, film screenings, workshops and a huge amount more.

It has already been seen by a very high-profile arts enthusiast as the Prince of Wales was shown some of the work on display by artists Anna FC Smith and Steven Heaton during the recent royal visit to Wigan.

Cross Street Arts’ contribution is in the Isherwood Gallery at the Crawford Street culture hub created in the borough’s Victorian former seat of justice.

The exhibition is even more special for Jane as it also coincides with a very special event on Friday evening when her eldest son, guitarist, singer and songwriter John Fairhurst, returns home to launch his new album The Divided Kingdom in Wigan.

Unto This Last, by Cross Street Arts, is on at The Old Courts from April 4 until April 21. Entry to the exhibition is free but the album launch of The Divided Kingdom on April 12, when the gallery will open from 6.30pm until 8pm, is £6 in advance and £8 on the door.