21 August – 06 October 2010.
Viewing: Tuesday 14 September 2010 18.00 – 21.00
Jeni McConnell presents objects, documents and images from Halton’s four public collections, together with her own works.
THE COLLECTIONS Halton has four public collections reflecting its rich and diverse heritage dating back nearly 1,000 years, contrasting social, religious, industrial and civic change, held at: Norton Priory Museum, Catalyst Museum, Runcorn Town Hall and Widnes Library.
THE PROJECT Exploring Halton’s Collections started in late 2008, and Heritage Lottery funding has enabled a Documentation Officer post to record and catalogue over 3,000 objects, documents and images to be viewed as an online virtual Halton website in early 2011, and the engagement of Jeni McConnell as the artist in residence.
THE ARTIST Jeni is a Cheshire based artist with a strong interest in people and places and the change they experience, charted through archives and collections. Her creative practice is socially engaged, and within a gallery context installation-based encouraging the viewer to interact and engage with the works. www.jenimcconnell.com
THE EXHIBITION THEMES: oak | salt | coal This exhibition, the culmination of detailed research into the four collections and the wider contextual area, responds to the strong evidence of the significant relationship that the geology and geography of this place have to Halton’s heritage, and its collections. The shift from the ‘Montpelier of Manchester’ to ‘the grim majesty of its smoke blackened cliffs’ appears dramatic. Industrial change commenced with the arrival of the first canals in the later 1700s, vital routes to transport Lancashire coal and Cheshire salt, bringing together the raw materials of the alkali industry on which Halton’s industrial heritage is founded. The raw materials of oak, salt and coal together become part of this narrative, as much as the people and the place, and all are reflected in the works you will see around the two galleries.