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Something old, something new – artist's work comes home to Rochdale

17 September 2018

Local artist John Cooke with Councillor Janet Emsley.

The changing face of Rochdale town centre over the last decade has been captured by local artist John Cooke.

3 pieces of John's 'expressionist' style work, which involves digital screen printing based on a photograph, have now been moved from display at MediaCityUK to a permanent home at Rochdale Central Library.

The Quays Culture arts team in Salford invited John to produce the original artwork to represent their theme of 'past and future'. So, having witnessed at first-hand the major improvements in recent years John used the town centre regeneration as his inspiration.

His first image is of the old main council building, known locally as 'the black box', which had a reputation as one of the region's ugliest buildings. Another shows the construction of its replacement – Number One Riverside in the background, alongside in progress demolition of 'the black box'. His third image shows the new Number One Riverside, which has won multiple awards for design and architecture as well as being named the 'best office' and 'best workplace' in UK by the BCO (British Council of Offices.)

John's paintings depicting Number One Riverside.

'A significant moment in our recent history'

The work gives you a glimpse into how the town centre has moved on, said artist John Cooke:

"The town centre really has moved forward over the last 10 years, going from one extreme to the other, from a depressing unloved building dominating the skyline to the modern and stylish Number One Riverside which makes a bold statement about the ambition in the town again. As a building it's much more popular with residents and staff…you can see how Rochdale is improving now and I wanted to reflect some of that in this work".

After previously being on show at MediaCityUK, the artwork is now on the wall of Rochdale Central Library after John donated it to us.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Community and Culture, said:

"Thank you to John for giving us these striking colourful pieces of art which I am pleased to say are now on public display in our library. They really capture a significant moment in our recent history and I can't think of a more appropriate place for them to be".