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Every art work tells a story. Most works tell many stories: What is shown in the painting? What isn’t shown? Why was this work made? Who paid for this work to be made? Why was it chosen to be in a museum collection? How did the circumstances of the artist’s life lead to them becoming an artist?You can absolutely enjoy a work without having any interest in its stories. However, we all bring our own stories with us when viewing art. The story you ‘read’ depends very much on your own personal story. Some of these works re-tell a famous story ( for example 'Circe offering the Cup for Ulysses'), while others leave you to imagine the story ('Bonjour Pierrot' is one of these).

12 artworks
She and Chandrabaty
© the artist. Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

She and Chandrabaty 2002

Abdus Shakoor Shah (b.1946)

Oil on canvas

H 100 x W 60 cm

Gallery Oldham

Cupid and Psyche
Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Cupid and Psyche 1890

Annie Louisa Swynnerton (1844–1933)

Oil on canvas

H 147 x W 91 cm

Gallery Oldham

The Mackerel Take
Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

The Mackerel Take 1865

James Clarke Hook (1819–1907)

Oil on canvas

H 76 x W 114 cm

Gallery Oldham

A White Slave
© the estate of Sir Alfred Munnings, Dedham, Essex. Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

A White Slave 1904

Alfred James Munnings (1878–1959)

Oil on canvas

H 99 x W 150 cm

Gallery Oldham

Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies
© the artist. Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Allow Your Friends to Meet Your Enemies 2011

Lubaina Himid (b.1954)

Acrylic, pencil & magazine clipping on paper

H 74.5 x W 95 cm

Gallery Oldham

Bonjour, Pierrot!
Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Bonjour, Pierrot!

Ethel Wright (1866–1939)

Oil on canvas

H 160 x W 109 cm

Gallery Oldham

Circe
Photo credit: Bridgeman Images

Circe 1891

John William Waterhouse (1849–1917)

Oil on canvas

H 148 x W 92 cm

Gallery Oldham

Girl in a Wood
Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Girl in a Wood

Alan Beeton (1880–1942)

Oil on canvas

H 152.5 x W 100 cm

Gallery Oldham

Barnet Fair, Hertfordshire
Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Barnet Fair, Hertfordshire 1930

Walter Richard Sickert (1860–1942)

Oil on canvas

H 73.5 x W 61 cm

Gallery Oldham

'As I wend to the shores I know not, As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck'd'
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

'As I wend to the shores I know not, As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck'd' 1951

Carel Victor Morlais Weight (1908–1997)

Oil on panel

H 120 x W 260 cm

Gallery Oldham

This Leprous Brightness
© courtesy Corvi-Mora, London. Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

This Leprous Brightness 2011

Imran Qureshi (b.1972)

Opaque watercolour on wasli paper

H 26 x W 34 cm

Gallery Oldham

Dorothy and Marjory Lees
Photo credit: Gallery Oldham

Dorothy and Marjory Lees c.1891–1892

Theodore Blake Wirgman (1848–1925)

Oil on canvas

H 49 x W 59.5 cm

Gallery Oldham