Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, at the Djanogly Art Gallery of Lakeside Arts Centre, is a photography exhibition inspired by Alan Sillitoe’s 1958 novel of the same name, and the subsequent film two years later. The film and novel follow the life of Arthur Seaton, a machinist at Nottingham’s Raleigh Cycle factory. In fact, it is particularly relevant that the exhibition should be held at Lakeside Arts, not just because of the novel’s and Sillitoe’s own relevance to Nottingham as a whole, but because the University’s Jubilee Campus stands on the site of the former Raleigh factory.
The black and white exhibition draws on the themes of the novel and film, exploring social change at the time, and cleverly incorporates a mixture of staged and natural shots, both in Nottingham and in comparable cities. As the exhibition guide proclaims, you will walk the galleries wondering which are which – the curating of the exhibition allows this suspended reality to come through incredibly well. Marked film stills and provocative contemporary images sit side by side with only a small caption of original to tell them apart.
The first gallery displays mainly images from estates and the Raleigh factory itself, with children playing on the street when such a thing was still deemed safe. There are some touching photographs of children, however I also found one particularly haunting; children playing in gas masks, a ghostly relic from the war. Another markedly good shot is that of stacked wheels rims at the Raleigh factory; haphazard organisation creates a woven effect and it is hard to believe for a minute that they are actually rims at all. The second gallery concentrates mainly on the culture of the era and the third gallery is dominated by large scale images which steal the show, drawing you further into the era.
What is interesting too, is that many of the concerns of the era, particularly in terms of leisure, are exactly the same as today’s. Young people still dance, albeit slightly differently, couples kiss passionately in the corner of dances and pubs and the Goose Fair goes on, all of which are documented on the exhibition’s walls. Cleverly, there is just one 1965 photograph in the whole exhibition in colour, at the end of the third gallery, perhaps a signal to the years to come. The subject matter is not poignantly different, but a splash of colour in an otherwise drained gallery is an intriguing end to a nostalgic exhibition.
A fantastic exhibition to relive part of our history, both in a local sense, but also on a grander scale in terms of a whole era.
Saturday Evening and Sunday Morning closes on Sunday 10th February. A free exhibition, it is perfect if you fancy something a bit different this weekend. More information can be found at http://www.lakesidearts.org.uk/Exhibitions/ViewEvent.html?e=2062&c=5&d=0