11 OCT - 20 OCT - Town Festival of Music & Words: Radical Halifax Exhibition

Friday 11th October 2024


11 OCT – 20 OCT
Open times: Weds 11 to 3pm; Friday – Sunday 11am to 3pm

Taking place at Calderdale Creates Pop Up Gallery (next door to Hatch/Trinity 6th Form).
Open times: Weds 11 to 3pm; Friday – Sunday 11am to 3pm (if you want to volunteer to help, please get in touch).
Radical Halifax is a joint work between ourselves, Dan Whittall & painter Marcus Jack.
Radical Halifax, a significant exhibition of paintings/illustrations by Marcus Jack, recovers and celebrates the hidden history of our town’s radical past. Artworks depicting 10 people either from Halifax or with a strong Halifax connection draw attention to the major role played by our town and its people in political movements that sought to build a better world.
Exhibition intro
There is a hidden history of Halifax, a history made by people who looked at the world around them, judged it to be failing, and committed their lives to changing it for the better. These people joined or built movements, working together with others locally and further afield to challenge inequalities, overthrow injustices and build alternatives. This is the history of Radical Halifax.
What do we mean by ‘radical’? Radicals are those who challenge the status quo in politics, society, economics and/or culture. The word ‘radical’ derives from the Latin noun ‘radix’, meaning root, and this gives us a sense of what radicalism is about: getting to the root of problems; rooting out these problems; building alternatives in order to re-root society. Radical movements seek change, believing fervently that another world is possible.
Towns across Britain have often neglected their radical pasts. Despite honourable exceptions this is the case in Halifax, hence why we describe Radical Halifax as a hidden history. Many of these histories will not… or not yet… be learned about in local schools. There are too few monuments to Radical Halifax and too little public memory of and debate about its legacies. In many respects the histories of Radical Halifax that are told in this exhibition have, in the words of Halifax historian E.P. Thompson, been lost to ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’.
The Radical Halifax exhibition is a recovery of this history, or at least of some parts of it. No single exhibition can carry the burden of recovering the entire radical history of a town. There will be gaps and absences in the story we tell here. We can only hope that those who visit this exhibition go on to seek out more about these histories, and to fill in the blanks in ways that we have been unable to.
But this exhibition cannot only be an act of historical recovery. It must also serve as a political resource in the present. As our world teeters between environmental crises, global conflicts, and social breakdowns, we need to relearn our radical histories more than ever because they can be a resource for hopefulness and an inspiration for us ourselves to join the struggles for a better world.
The assembled socialists, anti-racists, feminists and anti-imperialists you will learn about in this room all had the courage to call out injustice and the imagination to try and build alternatives. None of them did so alone, and all of them organised alongside comrades in social and political movements for change. All of them, also, were rooted in one way or another in Halifax. This town and the people of it have a history of working together for change. Remember that, as you find your own ways to renew Radical Halifax today. From Frederick Douglass through to Alice Mahon via Christy Moore & others, it’s the first exhibiton of its kind in Halifax.