“I didn’t want to bring it back to what it was, but I wanted to bring back the ambition for that space. I was really aware of artists who’d come of age and had their breakthroughs there, and the way the town and the community spoke about the space - the impact it had on them as school children. I didn’t want to go back to the 70s or 80s or 90s particularly, but I certainly wanted to pull back and remind people of what it could be in terms of ambition and scope. But also to bring back the contemporary, and to be unapologetic about bringing back high-calibre contemporary visual art - and not in a way that usurped or shadowed anything else, but just the fact that it could work in a place like Leigh and that there’s an appetite for it.
There was a plan, but it wasn’t a prescriptive plan. It was more of an ethos, really. Because I think when you take something like that on, and you have very little resources, but you do have experience and contacts and positive relationships, you see what transpires and where you can form links and friendships, and where that can be really productive. So I went in with confidence that that would play out well, and it did. We managed to pull in some really great exhibitions from the beginning, which set the tone for what we wanted to do over the coming years.”