Manchester Art Gallery

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

A new Hayward Touring exhibition curated by Jeremy Deller, who represented Britain in the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Manchester Art Gallery
Saturday 12 October 2013–Sunday 19 January 2014


In All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Deller takes a personal look at the impact of the Industrial Revolution on British popular culture, and its persisting influence on our lives today. The exhibition combined contemporary music, film and photography with a vast range of 19th century images and objects. Deller approaches this wealth of material like a social cartographer, revealing the ley lines of cultural history. After the exhibition’s initial showing in Manchester, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air toured to Nottingham, Coventry and Newcastle.

Deller explores how the trauma of the Industrial Revolution and chaotic urbanisation affected British society, focusing on emblematic figures including; Adrian Street, born into a Welsh mining family, Street rejected a life in the mines to become a flamboyant androgynous international wrestler; James Sharples, a 19th century blacksmith and self-taught painter from Blackburn, famous for his much- reproduced image, The Forge; and music from industrial towns whose roots can be traced back through generations of workers in factories and mills. The radical transformation of the landscape in the early industrial era was powerfully evoked in Victorian images of factories ablaze at night, shown alongside an apocalyptic painting by John Martin. Industrial folk music, the incessant rhythms and racket of the factory floor, heavy metal and glam rock, also permeated the exhibition in sound installations and film.


Adrian Street and his father, 1973
©Dennis Hutchinson 2012