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The Radical Decade: Art, Activism, and Regional Galleries in 1980s Britain conference

Touchstones Rochdale is pleased to announce a major one-day conference examining the intersection of art, activism and regional galleries in Britain during the 1980s, as part of ongoing research project examining the history of Rochdale Art Gallery during the 1980s.

As a small, civic gallery in the northwest of England, Rochdale at that time achieved a widespread reputation for its radical exhibition programming. Exhibitions, performances, and community engagement projects addressed current events and socio- political concerns including, the Falklands war; Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camps; the Troubles in Northern Ireland; the Miners’ Strike and the People’s March for Jobs; and increased racial tensions and large-scale riots in British cities.

Rochdale Art Gallery also pursued a pioneering programme of curatorial projects aimed at local artists and audiences, while also collaborating with regional partners, including Bluecoat Liverpool, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, Cooper Gallery, Barnsley and others.


10.00–10.30: Welcome and Introductions

10.30: In discussion: Sutapa Biswas and Derek Horton

11.00: In discussion: Jasleen Kaur and Alice Correia

11.30: Coffee break

11.45: Simeon Barclay, artist talk

12.15: Bryan Biggs, Radical programming at the Bluecoat in the 1980s; Alina Khakoo, Crossing Black Waters & the Critical Decade (1992)

13.00–14:00: Lunch

14.00: Paula Chambers, Pandora’s Box: Women, Myth and Visual Imagery; Alexandra Kokoli, Bright Must Trip, if not Topple: Triple Transformations (1985) by Monica Ross, Shirley Cameron, and Evelyn Silver; Victoria Horne, Feminist Networks: Art Periodicals in the 1980s

15.15–15.45: Tea break

15.45: In discussion: Griselda Pollock and Gill Park

16.15: Helen Cammock, artist talk from New Orleans

16.45–17.00: Final reflections and thanks

17.00-18.30: Chance to see our current exhibitions, Concrete Feathers and Porcelain Tacks by Helen Cammock. ‘Gut Feelings Meri Jaan’ by Jasleen Kaur and Maud Sulter: Centre of the Frame

Location: Touchstones
Duration: 8h 30m