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Northern art a massive success in China

Art treasures from such northern towns as Bolton and Bury have appeared in an exhibition in China and become a huge success. This has many wondering whether or not booming foreign countries can offer the cash strapped galleries in the UK a way out of their current financial crisis.

When Thomas Wrigley, the paper tycoon from Bury, during the industrial revolution amassed a personal collection of some 200 artworks, England became known as the ‘workshop of the world’. The Bury Art Museum was opened in 1901 just to house the fine collection that Wrigley had brought together. Those heady days are long gone however, and this council run gallery, like many others in the UK, is facing a massive cut in its funding.

The new ‘workshop of the world’ is now China, so it made perfect sense that the jewel of Wrigley’s collection, the sublime JMW Turner masterpiece Calais Sands, has been sent along with 80 more works from Bury and a further 8 from other north west galleries, on a 6 city tour of China that is proving to be somewhat of a money spinner.

The brains behind the ambitious venture is Tony Trehy, the manager of the Bury Art Museum, who had the vision to see that a collection of art owned by the north western industrial barons could be a very big draw overseas. He corralled the other galleries to put together their ‘greatest hits’ collection and then they all headed east.

As Mr Trehy says himself, the tour has proved to be sufficiently profitable that people have stopped talking about cutting them. The exhibition has the title of ‘Toward Modernity; Three Centuries of British Art’, and apart from the turner, there are also works from Lowry, Constable, Lucien Freud and Henry Moore that have been collated from collection in Carlisle, Chester, Stalybridge and Salford.




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