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Oldham Road, Second View: Photographs by Charlie Meecham – Gallery Oldham

There was a surreal atmosphere with the warm sun driving in on a March day, feeling more like June (at least, June in Manchester) through…

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There was a surreal atmosphere with the warm sun driving in on a March day, feeling more like June (at least, June in Manchester) through Oldham’s labyrinth of roads winding around the countless construction sites which are heralding the rebranding of the town.

However, the exhibition I was heading to, Charlie Meecham’s photographic Oldham Road, Second View, looks not at the future of the town, but at its recent past.  The exhibition contains a collection of photographs of suburban streets and road scenes taken between 1986 and 2011, serving as a comparison of the changes that have taken place over the course of 25 years.

The exhibition is prescribed in Gallery Oldham’s brochure with “How do you define your sense of place living in a constantly changing landscape?” However, myself and other visitors (at least according to my powers of eavesdropping) could see that it was in fact quite difficult to decipher when these pictures were from, with features that could easily belong to any of the three decades, such as the ‘MARCH FOR JOBS’ posters.

Many show a more run-down image of Oldham, with one of an old-fashioned (even in 1986) sweet shop window looking particularly decrepit, alongside the more depressing image in the 2011 picture where the scene has been replaced with a betting shop.  It shows Oldham through the eyes of locals who live their lives amongst this landscape and is certainly an interesting perspective on the changes, or of course, depending on your point of view, the continuity of life brought by the new century.

Running 10th December – 3rd June