The year is 1979 and Buzzcocks have just released their third studio LP, A Different Kind of Tension. Leigh-born frontman and punk icon Pete Shelley opens the album with a track that brazenly asks, ‘Is this is the place that they call Paradise?’
Just eight years earlier, the North West town of Leigh had seen the opening of the Turnpike Centre: a bold, Brutalist megalith containing a library and a purpose-built art gallery, which sticks out of the Civic Square like a sore thumb and offers a lifeline to its locals, depending on who you ask.
It was in this concrete heart of the town that The Turnpike CIC tested out a different kind of vision for art in Leigh. Our five years of programming began in 2017 and evolved through the desire to bring high-quality contemporary art to the Turnpike Centre and channel the visionary spirit in the town’s DNA for a new generation of artists, audiences and local communities.
As five years of The Turnpike CIC come to an end, we present this archive to capture our work and reflect on what we’ve discovered along the way. We invite you to explore our findings of what happens when we draw on the skills, creative thinking and DIY courage of artists and communities to collectively imagine: Could this be paradise?