Inside Out exhibition: Fleetwood’s creativity on show at old hospital site

Could Fleetwood be the new Margate or St Ives?
Claire takes a look at how a small well-known Lancashire fishing town created an amazing pop-up art exhibition at the site of an old hospital.

There is an ethereal DIY feeling to spaces taken over by creatives. Pop-up art exhibitions are everywhere in cities and around art colleges. Taken over once loved spaces or repurposing factories, empty office blocks, or shops. So in September of last year with lockdown all around us, Lancashire based arts organisation Leftcoast along with the artist in Residence Gillian Wood made a callout, asking residents of Fleetwood what creative happenings they were doing behind those closed doors.

The exhibitions opening allowed a warm atmosphere with swathes of photographic flags floating on a light breeze set against orange walls, nearby images of a giddy dalmatian galivanting on a familiar beach. The foyer area stages a number of disembodied scrubs and colourful posters that highlight feelings associated with the lockdown. Hidden behind a hospital curtain a saucy cat lurks – alongside knitted seagulls jostling for position as a nearby room hosts metal butterflies in flight above oversized colourful flowers.

Conversations around the Scrub Hub generated further chats about hidden creativity, friends of the sewers who made amazing cakes, people taking walks with cameras in lockdown, domestic crafts taken perhaps for granted, skills like knitting or crochet that might get passed down generationally. Gillian uncovered a plethora of communities gardening, making bird boxes a community taking solace in creativity.

The outcome is a culmination of unearthed creativity on display in Fleetwood Hospital on Pharoh Street. A number of rooms display photographs, sculpture, fashion, knitted items and even rocking horses. Using Come our, come out wherever you are the Inside Out exhibition explains that the idea stemmed from Gillian Woods connection to the costumers network where she had heard about folks setting up “scrub hubs” to help support medical staff and carers. On April 9th 2020 she launched the Fylde Coast Scrub hub with support from local volunteers.

This exhibition is a conversation between the makers of Fleetwood and Gillian. We hope it reminds you that creativity is an important part of being human. – Laura Jamieson Leftcoast.

Gillian explains in the  Fleetwood Inside Out brochure that creativity is not just for walls but art can be combined in everyday function such as a child’s drawing made into wallpaper, a memory becoming a suit, a drawing printed on fabric, a photo turned into a wall hanging.

“If we choose, we can be part of creativity of the everyday world we live in, we have the skills, and it’s already happening here in Fleetwood”.

Heather Smith a contributing artist to The Inside Out Exhibition talks about creativity as an escape to break free from stress. How she can sometimes feel like part of the canvas an extra component when she is painting.

Her drawings come from every day, things that catch her eye, photos, dreams even daydreaming. Her advice for creativity is just to do it, there is no right or wrong as long as you enjoy it.

Inside Out runs from 22 June to 18 July 2021 and takes place on the top floor of The Old Fleetwood Hospital building on Pharos Street. Entry is through the atrium building to the side of the building.

Opening times are:

Tue 10-4

Thurs 1-7

Sat 10-4

Follow the exhibition facebook page here


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