VB Arts

During 1999 - 2014 Alison Kershaw devised and curated a number of exhibitions, including nationally recognised and International exhibiting contemporary artists: Humberto Velez, Claudia Pilsl, Ellie Harrison, Michael Pinsky, Walker and Bromwich, Ally Wallace, Anthony Hall and Tod Hanson. She also encouraged that the baths to be utilised as testing grounds for art students and newly formed arts collectives, such as Contents May Vary. There have been performances and residencies, workshops and studio spaces. There have been fanzine fairs and the baths has been used as a venue for theatre and performance events as part of numerous arts festivals including Future Everything's Handmade and Streets Ahead.

 

I am fascinated by Victoria Baths in Manchester which is a derelict Edwardian bath house, Turkish Baths and swimming pools. The building closed and was saved by local campaigners. In many ways the baths is a contentious site, representing Manchester's industrial heritage, the establishment of the City Council and reflecting the grand aspirations of Manchester in its expensive construction, decoration and oppulent facilities.

 

It's story traces the decline of public baths more widely during the 1990s and the peoples' determined defence of their well loved buildings when threatened with demolition (Victoria Baths won the first sereis of "Restoration" on BBC2 in 2003). Always reflecting the current economic, social and political climate; now the baths is being managed by dedicated volunteers as part of the so-called big society through a charitable Trust. It survives and continues with renovations, opening to the public as a wedding and events venue and a heritage attraction - and it has become almost financially self sustaining. The Trust still host occassional exhibitions.

 

 

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