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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations with Steve Cooke


Rochdale Artists announce a new day group.

PREVIEW By Steve Cooke

There has been an artists' group in Rochdale for 80 years; Rochdale Artists was formed in 1987. Its objectives are to advance the education of anyone living or working in the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale or the surrounding area, particularly in the field of the visual arts. The group welcomes new members of any experience and ability and currently includes members ranging from professionals to beginners.

Currently the group meets on Tuesday evenings at the Castleton Community Centre on Manchester Road. A full programme of events includes guest speakers and demonstrations. You can see the most recent events on the Newsletter page. Most months there is a theme linked in some way to the demonstration with an appraisal of members' work later in the month. Current Quarterly Challenge is A Film Poster or Album Cover.

It is now proposed that they form an extra group.

The group’s David Bebbington explains.

‘We are aware that many of our older and former members are no longer able to travel at night and so are missing the chance to meet with like-minded people on a regular basis to talk about and practice their art.

In order to allow people the opportunity to do this in a safe and welcoming environment, we have received funding to start a new arm of Rochdale Artists that will meet once a week during the day.

Starting on 11th October 2023, the day group will meet every Wednesday between 11.00am and 1.00pm at Castleton Community Centre and initially we will run workshops, free-painting, and discussion days, very much based on the formula we use in our evening meetings.

These meetings will take place in the same rooms as the evening group, so we will have access to the resources in the art cupboards, as well as the same tea/coffee making facilities.

Subscriptions will be the same as the evening group at £12 per year membership of Rochdale Artists and £1 per visit to cover room hire. There will be no charge made if you don’t attend.

Should you choose to attend both day and night meetings, the one membership will cover both – we are just one Society which will now be holding two meetings weekly at £1 per meeting.

We do not intend to close the evening meetings, as not all members can attend during the day, especially younger members who we want to encourage but have other commitments during the day.’


The group holds annual exhibitions within the area at places such as Holingworth Lake Visitors Centre and Littleborough Coach House, as well as other venues. Members may submit up to three works in these exhibitions.

Coming up

‘September 5th – Miniatures Workshop

Art on a small scale can be a great way to complete works very quickly. Bring along your normal materials but maybe leave your 2” brushes at home. Paper of the appropriate size will be supplied.

September 12th– Demonstration, Lee Pickering

Lee Pickering is a graffiti and tattoo artist and will be leading a demonstration evening based on these types of art. Bring along drawing and/or watercolour materials in order to join in the fun.

September 19th – Free-painting night

Enjoy an evening doing your own thing, or maybe completing the quarterly theme work in time to show next week.

September 26th– Theme Appraisal night

Tonight we will show off our works completed over the last quarter on the theme of A Film Poster or Album Cover. Towards the end of the evening we will choose our next Quarterly Theme.’

Currently meeting every Tuesday 7 - 9pm at Castleton Community Centre, Keswick Street, off Manchester Road, Castleton, ,Rochdale, OL11 3AF.

Starting on 11th October 2023, the day group also will meet every Wednesday between 11.00am and 1.00pm at the same venue.

Email: Stacey Coughlin at Rochdale Artists:


Phone: 01706 379609

Dara McAnulty – The Young Naturalist


Hebden Bridge Town Hall hosted a reading and talk by Dara McAnulty, the youngest ever winner of the Wainwright Prize for nature writing. The prize-winning book “The Diary of a Young Naturalist” documents a year of Dara’s life growing up in Northern Ireland from age 14 to 15. The creative use of language is so good it is hard to imagine it was written by such a young person.

That first book has been followed by two children’s books: “Wild Child” and “A Wild Child’s Book of Birds”. Wild Child has also been shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Both books, aimed at young people, are full of beautiful illustrations by Barry Falls, and lots of information, ideas, and inspiration to appeal to the innate naturalist and curiosity within all children. I’m delighted to have these books in my own collection too, as they are full of inspiration and the joy of our natural world, making them attractive for people of any age.

During the evening Dara read selected passages from “The Diary of a Young Naturalist” interspersed with conversation with poet and playwright Amanda Dalton. A quiet and thoughtful delivery, in a soft Northern Irish accent, does not hide Dara’s enthusiasm for nature and his campaigning spirit. He spoke about his childhood, growing up in Northern Ireland in a family which placed a great deal of importance in nature and allowed, or supported, a great deal of freedom to experience the outdoors in all its forms. He also spoke about his own autism and some of the difficulties he had at school, especially with bullying. His last family move to Co. Fermanagh meant a new school where things improved, since which Dara has moved on and just completed his first year studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University.

This is a young man, still a student, with three published books to his name. He has boundless enthusiasm and a hope that other young people will grow to love our natural world and protect it. You can’t bottle passion, but Dara McAnulty has put his into these books. Every school ought to have copies and make sure they are widely read.

At a time where our environment and climate are changing it is easy, sometimes, to lose faith in the ability of humanity to change. Listening to this young man speaking to an audience, mainly two or three times his age, gives me hop for the future.

As a campaigner, activist, and writer he has become an ambassador for the RSPCA, the RSPB, the iWill campaign and the Jane Goodall institute. Other credits include writing and presenting natural history programmes for BBC television and Radio. In 2023 he became the youngest ever recipient of the British Empire Medal for services to the environment and people with autism spectrum disorder.

I strongly recommend “Diary of a Young Naturalist”, and should you have a chance to see Dara McAnulty take it, I’m sure you won’t regret it.


Saturday 26 August


We’re taking bingo out of the hall, adding comedy, music, and even bigger balls!

With a smashing atmosphere, crazy games, and not to mention great prizes, the Bingo revolution starts here.

Your hosts and DJs for the evening will be Perry Marco and Owen Lewis, who will be playing smash hits from the 80's, 90's and today. Expect everything you can sing and dance to including the music of ABBA, to the Spice Girls, to Beyonce.

Oh, we nearly forgot… we will also be playing BINGO with great prizes!

Tickets from £20

Phone: Middleton Arena 0300 303 8633 



Middleton Arena, LCpl Joel Halliwell VC Way Middleton M24 1AG

celebrating creative arts and artists - an oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.

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