Since January 2011 I have been visiting and researching at The Working Class Movement Library in Salford.
The library's collection was started by Ruth and Eddie Frow, and was initially a semi-private collection kept in their house in Manchester. But their passion for acquiring anything to do with working class history and struggle meant that in 1987, the collection had become too big and was moved to its current setting at 51 The Crescent, becoming a public reference library.
The amazing collection includes books, pamphlets, personal archives, photographs, plays, poetry, songs, banners, posters, badges, cartoons, journals, biographies, newspaper reports and more. They tell the story of Britain's working classes from the earliest days of industrialisation to the present day.
My research so far has barely made a dent in the vast amount of material in the collection and subsequently my project with the library is on-going.
As an initial marker to this on-going project, I have recently developed new works in relation to my research, currently showing in the exhibition Versuche, on at the library until mid September 2011. A selection of these new works are shown here.
The title of the show refers to the German word for ‘tests, tries, trials, efforts, attempts & experiments’ and is also the title of a journal edited by political playwright and theorist Bertolt Brecht in which he published drafts of his scripts and poetry.
This presentation of new work and work in progress, alongside a selection of objects, photographs and books from the Library’s collection, is shown here in this spirit of ‘Versuche’.
Fascinated not only by the content of the library itself but also its day to day running, the history of its collections and the physical environment in which it is housed, the exhibition marks the beginning to my interest in how the library provides an important context in which to investigate and discuss current political climates and debates.
Opening times for the exhibition are Wednesday-Friday 1pm-5pm and every third Saturday of each month 10am-4pm.