The Lowry have announced that The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation as a supporting partner on tour of LS Lowry’s celebrated painting Going to the Match to five venues across the North West.

Sir Bobby Charlton’s name is synonymous with English football both as a player and as an ambassador for the sport. He set up his charity – The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation – in 2011 to ensure that people in war-decimated countries could play football safely and to address some of the devastating injuries which prevented them from leading healthy and fulfilling lives.

The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation has found that universally, football has the power to bring people together. As part of the programme of activity on the Going to the Match tour, workshops will be organised with a particular focus on bringing people together from refugee communities (in Manchester, Bury and Salford) to experience the painting, to share their love of football and what it means to them.

The tour of Going to the Match started in December 2023 as LS Lowry’s masterpiece left its home at The Lowry, Salford for a 14-month tour of five North West venues. The first was Gallery Oldham and the tour has continued to The Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool where Going to the Match is currently on display until 30th March 2024.

The painting will then tour to the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, The National Football Museum, Manchester and finally Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre.

The 1953 Lowry painting features football supporters streaming into Burnden Park, the original home of Bolton Wanderers FC. Lowry spent much of his life painting people going about their everyday lives – going to work, to school, to the park and here, going to see a football match. Most of Lowry’s crowds, as in Going to the Match, are painted against a backdrop of Lancashire’s industrial landscape. In fact the majority of fans shown in the painting would probably have been factory workers. Visitors today still see themselves in this work, as the shared experience of going to a football match is in many ways the same as it was in the 1950s.

The painting’s iconic status has thrilled visitors of all ages: those who love art, those who love football and anyone who loves the unique excitement of a ‘match day.’ The tour will mean this painting can be enjoyed by the widest possible audiences across the region. Going to the Match will be a focus and inspiration for creative workshops, projects in schools, family days and commissions to create new artistic responses to it.

“The North West is home to many families who have fled war-affected countries. The tour of Going to the Match will reach out to those communities, introducing the joy of art through its football theme.”

Each venue will work with their own audiences, local schools and communities as well as their own local football clubs to develop a programme of events that will reach and engage as many people as possible. The tour has been boosted by a £95,000 grant from Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme as well as this additional support from The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation which will help enable each venue to mount an extensive learning and engagement programme, tailored to their own local audiences and football fans.


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