Touchstones Rochdale, an art and heritage gallery managed by Your Trust, has revealed the names of the artists who will participate in shaping a new museum space, The Dining Room, as part of Touchstones’ extensive renovation.

The project follows the £249,999 grant awarded to the venue by The National Lottery Heritage Fund last year thanks to National Lottery players, and will see artists and a range of community partners transform a static museum display into a dynamic, evolving collections display.

Community Curators recruited from various backgrounds and communities, will work alongside the artists commissioned to create a series of new artworks that reflect Rochdale’s cultural heritage, combining the theme of food with the Borough’s collections.

Artist, designer and curator Aliyah Hussain has been commissioned to create a multi-object installation that will be suspended from The Dining Rooms ceiling. With a background in performance and a practice rooted in collaboration, her work incorporates ceramics, sound, and drawing with a focus on collage. 

Aliyah said: “I am so excited by the opportunity to work with the community curators to co-create a multi-object installation for the dining room space. I think bringing clay into the project and using it as a place to start the research will help navigate and guide the processes and outcomes. 

“The connection between food and ceramics is an intimate one and the preparation of both by hand includes many technical crossovers. We tell our stories through the food we make, and clay is a uniquely transformative material that allows us to imagine what we might want to see in the future.”

Working specifically with a group of Young Curators, the textile commission will be led by Ibukun Baldwin, a multidisciplinary artist and social practitioner specialising in print, illustration and embroidery. Her work has grown out of an awareness of the neglected needs of marginalised communities and the potential role that innovative, contemporary, hand-crafted design can play.

Ibukun said: “I’m looking forward to joining forces with the young people of Rochdale to make some exciting new art.”

The artists’ trio will be concluded by Kyam, a digital illustrator with a particular interest in the role of story on identity. Her practice draws on oral history research, community conversation and creative storytelling to create bold and colourful digital artwork. She explores themes such as culture and belonging to build a greater understanding of the heritage and oftentimes forgotten history of people and places, with a particular focus on QTIPOC communities.

Kyam said: “I am really excited to be working with Touchstones Rochdale, exploring and celebrating Rochdale’s fantastic food history and culture through digital art.”

Leading on the project for Touchstones, Heritage Coordinator Laura Mansfield said:

“We are really excited to be working with the artists on the commissions. Each of them have a dedicated engagement practice, connecting to individuals and communities to co-create new artworks. Throughout the commissions, they will be engaging with our group of Community Curators and our Young Curators, individuals of different ages and backgrounds from across Rochdale, to explore and share the Borough’s diverse heritage. We are planning some events in the summer and autumn out and about across the Borough that will be opportunities for the public to learn more about the artists’ work with the groups and the heritage stories that are being collectively shared.”

Whilst the development work at Touchstones is taking place, the artists and soon-to-be-announced Community Curators will help shape the new Dining Room space by exploring local collections via the lens of food, identifying aspects of our shared heritage that are missing from the collections, as well as celebrating the everyday objects that have an important place in lives in Rochdale. This includes contributing to all aspects of the visitor experience, from the food menu to the furniture, and will develop a programme of events to take place when the new space opens.


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