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In October 2018 we're launching a new open art competition, asking the public to create a postcard inspired by the Rochdale borough’s art collection.

Established artists and amateurs alike are invited to exhibit their artworks responding to our public art collection. Celebrating the concept of ‘mail art’ that became popular in the 1960s, when artists sent artworks through the post rather than exhibiting them through conventional channels, we're asking you to create a piece to the size of a postcard.

The Fair, Dieppe, France

The Fair, Dieppe, France c.1902

Walter Richard Sickert (1860–1942)

Handmade, altered and bespoke postcards can be created in a variety of materials. Artworks have always been created to convey messages to their audience. What visual message would you send about Rochdale’s artworks with your postcard? Do you have a favourite artwork that you wish to celebrate?

Top prizes will be awarded by a judging panel and include £100 plus the chance for one of the lucky entrants to have their postcard reproduced. The exhibition will feature all entries and some artworks of particular inspiration from our collection.

A Special Pleader

A Special Pleader 1893

Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894)

Touchstones Rochdale holds over 1,500 richly diverse artworks in its collection of both regional and national significance. Thanks to Art UK, over 500 of these are available to view digitally online, with more to be uploaded soon!

When the gallery opened in 1903, it did so with 164 donations, primarily given by wealthy local textile industrialists. The collection has continued to develop ever since through a mix of donations and purchases. The gallery works with individual artists and organisations such as the Art Fund and the Contemporary Art Society to make contemporary acquisitions.

Highlights of the collection include an Italian panel painting dating from the 1420s by Giovanni di Paolo, a typical sentimental Victorian painting by Charles Burton Barber called A Special Pleader (which is probably the Gallery’s best known painting due to its reproduction on biscuit tins and jigsaws!), and Woman’s Head with a Yellow Background by Lucian Freud from 1963.

Mons Graupius

Mons Graupius 1979/1980

Gillian Ayres (1930–2018)

Have a browse through our collection to see which artworks inspire you – we’ve got an ‘ism’ and period to suit all tastes. There are Victorian paintings by artists such as Edward John Gregory, David Roberts and John Henry Lorimer, plus work produced by prominent artist colony groups such as the Staithes Group (including local artist Frederick William Jackson), and the Newlyn School (with works by the 'en plein air' advocate Samuel John Lamora Birch and the celebrated Royal Academician Laura Knight).

Aurora and Zephyr

Aurora and Zephyr 1852

William Edward Frost (1810–1877)

Modern works from the collection include artists from ‘the London Group’ such as Walter Sickert, Thérèse Lessore and Ivon Hitchens, figurative painters such as David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach, and Vanessa Bell of the Bloomsbury Group.

The Trick Act

The Trick Act

Laura Knight (1877–1970)

Contemporary art collecting at the gallery has historically looked at supporting women artists. Specifically from the 1980s under the stewardship and involvement of influential artists, writers and curators, works by artists such as Gillian Ayres, Alexis HunterSusan Hiller and Lubaina Himid were acquired, with more recent additions from Cornelia Parker, Claire Barclay and Hayley Tompkins.

If you're already inspired, download the entry form. If you need more inspiration, come to the gallery to have a look in person.

Entrants should deliver or post their work to Touchstones Rochdale before 5 pm on Saturday 8 December 2018. Good luck!

Anna Bates Patel, Art Gallery Coodinator, Rochdale Arts and Heritage Service