Emily Allchurch uses photography to recreate old master paintings and prints, creating contemporary narratives. Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign with The Art Fund, we commissioned her to make a new work for Manchester Art Gallery based on the painting Albert Square, Manchester, 1910 by French Impressionist Adolphe Valette. This was the centrepiece of her exhibition, which was her first UK solo show in a public museum. Valette, who lived and worked in Manchester for many years, painted atmospheric views of the city, which are a favourite with residents and visitors alike. His works captured the essence of Manchester at the turn of the 20th century. Allchurch’s updated re-creation of Valette’s Edwardian cityscape reveals Manchester as the 21st Century city it is today, resonant with echoes of its historic past.
The exhibition showcased Allchurch’s celebrated Tokyo Story and Tokaido Road series, which pay homage to the 19th century Japanese printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige. Displayed as lightboxes, her works reveal not only changes to the topography but also to Japanese society and customs. These works were shown alongside a selection of Manchester Art Gallery’s collection of exquisite but rarely seen original Hiroshige woodblock prints and some on loan from our partner, Whitworth Art Gallery.
Allchurch’s works are seamless digital collages, using hundreds of photographs, taken in urban environments today. The complex photographic images have a resonance with place, history and culture and deal with the passage of time and the changes to a landscape, fusing contemporary life with a sense of history.
Emily Allchurch, Albert Square, Manchester (after Valette), 2015
Collection Manchester Art Gallery, funded through Art Happens, the Art Fund’s crowd-funding platform © Emily Allchurch.