UP Projects are working in partnership with Touchstones Rochdale to produce an exciting new commission by the artist Jasleen Kaur, which will be presented in an exhibition at Touchstones, along with a programme of public events in Rochdale, Manchester and London.

Focusing on the town’s social history, from the industrial revolution to labour migration, this project explores the possibility of a counter archive revealing less visible cultural narratives within local archives and museum collections, by interrogating how we remember - both individually and collectively - and who’s histories are ultimately validated.

Inspired by popular Lancashire dialect writers Rebecca Lahee and Tim Bobbin (the ‘Lancashire Hogarth’), the project will begin by capturing a collection of oral histories from different generations living in and around Rochdale. During this process the artist will collaborate closely with local community groups to examine the historic and contemporary culture of Rochdale through a combination of open conversations and experimental workshops considering the themes of representation, care and collective voice.

These conversations will form the foundation of the project, exploring the complexity and embodiment of culture through the lens of language and dialect, culminating in a series of performative works centred around the marginalised voices of those whose lives have shaped the culture of Rochdale over the last 200 years.

The public outcomes of this project were originally due to be presented in October 2020. However, due to the Coronavirus we are now hoping to launch in early 2021.

This commission is very generously funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Rochdale Borough Council and Arts Council England.


Jasleen Kaur (b.1986) is an artist currently living and working in London. Her work is an ongoing exploration into the malleability of culture and the layering of social histories within the material and immaterial things that surround us. Her practice examines the hierarchy of histories and labour using a range of mediums and methods including sculpture, video, conversation and writing. Recent commissions include Glasgow Women’s Library, Market Gallery, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Eastside Projects and Hollybush Gardens. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Royal College of Art and Crafts Council.

UP Commissions supports artists to make ambitious and experimental new work for the public realm. These may range from proposals that respond to the environment where work is produced, to interdisciplinary collaboration, to pieces that are co-produced with communities. Fundamental to UP Commissions are questions that provoke thought about what constitutes public art, what community is, and how we inhabit and co-exist in places and spaces in the 21st century. To find out more about UP Commissions, please click here.