Visiting Rochdale Town Centre for a bit of socially distanced shopping the looming autumnal clouds and intermittent downpours had their potentially depressing effect greatly ameliorated by the wonderful murals that illuminate potentially drab spaces.
We are fortunate to have such stunning pieces of street art on our doorstep: created during last year’s, pre-Covid-19, August bank holiday weekend, commissioned by street art duo Nomad Clan and Rochdale Council.
Nomad Clan artists Hayley Garner and Joy Gilleard originally approached the council with an idea for nine adverts to celebrate Rochdale as the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement. But it quickly snowballed to become a mural festival.
Each piece relates to Rochdale’s rich history, with many artists choosing to draw inspiration from its past as a textile hub for the cotton industry.
Others have chosen to focus instead on messages of environmental sustainability, gender equality, as well as looking at the town’s wider history.
Three stunning examples are:
Penfold (The Walk/The Butts)
Using bright colours, shapes, and patterns, Penfold’s piece is inspired by the town hall, which it practically overlooks from its position on The Walk. He has depicted the historic building’s columns and patterned ceiling in his own style, which draws influence from pop art.
Nomad Clan (Church Lane)
This piece by festival organisers Nomad Clan can be found on the side of what is now the Regal Moon pub.
Their projection idea was inspired by the fact the building was once a cinema, and the design, which features symbolic elements like the wind turbines and cotton trading, aims to portray Rochdale through the ages.
The mural Nomad Clan have created shows an old projector playing the story of Rochdale’s industrial growth on the wall. A woman winds yarn onto a giant bobbin, two miners work against the backdrop of burning coal and, then, tips into the present day with a remembrance of the Seven Sisters development and the hopes of better housing for all that came with it.
Folie aka Cookie Love (Volta Lab Studios)
Manchester-based artist Folie’s mural on the side of the Volta Lab studios pays homage to the studio’s strong associations with the 70s and 80s Manchester music scene and its role in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People.
The studio recorded Joy Division, Happy Mondays, Elbow and the Stone Roses, and Folie pays homage to this with a reinterpretation of 1979’s famous Unknown Pleasures artwork.
The finished piece also references Rochdale’s former Ashfield Valley Flats which had strong ties to the punk scene
and were demolished in 1992 and women’s underrepresentation in music.